Out of a days-long stupor last week
she had blurted over the phone,
“I want you to come and see me.”
When I arrived her face was immobile,
eyes fixed on the ceiling in a sleeping stare,
pupils anonymous pinpoints that saw no natural light.
She never again spoke a word, yet emitted
a sense of recognition of our relation,
and whenever I left her bedside she whimpered her worry.
Every hour, morphine was slowly dripped
beneath her tongue --a tongue that protruded from a mouth
open without embarrassment, without complaint, for her final breaths.
How peace-giving it was to us to be able to give her
this length of time, this gift of touch, handholding
called out of our busy faraway lives.
I remember the pink background glow of a lamp
against the bedroom wallpaper, soft hymn-singing
in familiar voices, the smell of almond oil on her skin.
I remember that all she wanted was our company;
not food or speech or entertainment but simply our hands
holding hers throughout the long day into that last night.
First Place in Serious Poetry, 2004
Saint David’s Christian Writers’ Conference
first published in Saint Davids Christian Writers Conference Awards
also published in Time of Singing
also published in ISPS 20ith Anniversary Anthology
also published in GLORY IN THE ORDINARY Chapbook
also published in Hoopeston Chronicle News
also published in Illinois State Poetry Society
©2003 Bonnie Manion