Dedicated to Bernadette E. McLeod 1947 – 2005

It began that way, didn’t it?
Telling lies, make believe
because I’m the writer
I’ll complicate how
when the what I feel
mouths up hate
salivating off my lips.
I should really drown those words
drown myself in liquor every night
a resolve I blamed on my mother anyway
when she was crying out
crying out all her life
when there was no one to listen
no mirror to edge up close
blow her breath into
her own air fogging a cloud
hear her own name
bounce back in a song B
smell her own liquored breath against her face
feel her own danger against her skin
nothing could sing
no Sunday morning could song back her hymns.

It began that way, didn’t it?
Always in a place where only the strong will survive
the fate she unknowingly prayed against
living in spite of Reason’s you should die
nothing to pray for now
nothing to explain
nothing to succumb to
she has nothing to fear
she stops now, the doctors’ last minute ambition
can’t do for her now
like I did her, a second thought
the last breath to revive, bringing her back
to give her all I wanted to say, while her pressure drops
as the infection spreads to her mind filled with everything precious
pictures I desperately fight to hold onto
the sound of her voice on a phone greeting.

It began that way, didn’t it?
In the company of familiar strangers
she coughs up blood in a hospital alone
in the company of familiar strangers
she crows out my name
because I can’t remember the last time we spoke
I want to hear her now
I want to know what she thought
she’ll call tomorrow and leave me messages
say she has a smile on her face
with one eye open
say she’s peaceful
waiting to see that one person
to close her look at the world.
But it wasn’t her lying there
in an expensive coffin, dressed
in favorite colors with a crown on
I wanted to see her feet
with bunions, callus nail polish
I wanted to see my inheritance
walking for a long time
looking for that window
but I was too afraid to know
opening the other end.
It was my turn to say goodbye
when I had already dreamt this day
when the air was so thick
I couldn’t breathe
her eyes darker than the usual brown
so shiny I saw my reflection.

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