from my friend Sarah, a wonderful poet
by Sarah Russell
Leavings are untidy. Remembering
what you want to say as the car pulls away,
or the cell phone drops into your purse,
restraint in an embrace, the casual
see ya, when you ache for more.
There was that time my mother died—
a stiff, proud woman who did not touch.
She lay in bed, while her brothers and I
hovered. We asked if she needed a blanket,
if she wanted music, if she were hungry,
thirsty. At each offering, she jerked her head
from side to side, tight-lipped, angry.
Then the young, Hispanic hospice aide reached
out and took her hand. She knew what leavings
needed, what my mother couldn’t bring herself
to ask for, what we didn’t understand to give.
My mother sighed and held that gentle,
reassuring hand. The aide leaned in, caressed
a wisp of hair on her forehead. My mother smiled,
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