The Sunday before the Wednesday I was to see you
the conversation played
on a stage in my mind.
Knowing you would pretend to be irritated that
I had flown across the country unannounced
because you did not
want me to see you like this,
I would pull the chair next to your bed,
see your emaciated body,
and my hand would brush
away the hair around your face
like I did twenty-five years ago
right before I would smear Pond’s cold cream
across your nose, cheeks, and forehead.
I would tell you that I finally understood.
But then you died on Tuesday.
In their need for reason,
people said you chose to die
the Tuesday before the Wednesday I was to see you
because you knew I was coming and
you wouldn’t have
wanted me to see you like that.
Infuriated, I turned my back
on the words that meant nothing
to the open wound you left behind
that people saw as me, and
I sat in the darkness,
my throat choked with silence,
my fingertips filled with regret that I
did not brush your hair
away from your face
when I saw you on
the morning of the Thursday after the Wednesday I was to see you,
when I heard your voice say,
It isn’t me.
I originally shared this poem in the summer of 2006 and again here as part of Poetry Thursday, which was an online community I co-hosted. It poured out of me one day when I was processing the grief surrounding my grandmother's death and my anger at the platitudes people say. Of all the poems I wrote during my experience of Poetry Thursday, this was my favorite.