Do not preach
Do not preach to me about death.
I saw him solid by my mother’s bed
take her breaths one at a time,
while I smoothed her hair.
I beheld him through thick tears
that clotted my throat.
He clutched his hat in his hand,
ready to exit with his bag of tricks—
blood that turns blue,
a heart that beats a second too long.
I know; I counted them:
the times her chest rose and fell,
the faint pulse in the hollow of her throat,
the miniscule movement in the temple—
too much sound for me.
The kidneys that hardened,
swelled her body like voile in the wind
until her rings cut her fingers.
I soaked her hands in lotion to remove them.
A ruby one for my sister; a worn gold band for me.
by Karen Foster