by Joani Reese

Three hundred and sixty-five, eight times gone.

I want to talk to you again, help you fix a fan,

pound a nail, paint a bedroom yellow.


We sat numb, exhausted, inarticulate

while those dark faces that surrounded you

in your dying turned, tested, timed your breaths,


I picture practical watches; thick soled shoes,

and drops of Morphine, the gentle hospice man

who lovingly cleared the rattle from your throat,

eased your suffering while we cringed outside the door,

afraid of the tube.


Two thousand nine hundred twenty days.

I can't remember, was it a Monday? Thursday?


The pool needs patching, the ceiling, too.

Your voice remains a constant in my inner ear.

I miss your stories.

Gato Slindy, the baseball game,

the ex-lax.The neighbor tossing filthy wash water

from her window calling, “for the birds.”


Some say the forgetting begins before the first hour

recedes, as colors bleed to gray, one by one

until there are none but shades of shadow

left to trouble the air.


I want to show you the fence I painted,

trim a hedge with you.


Eight autumns, eight springs.

Rain shreds the sky in silver filaments less

and less now--Last winter, hail bulleted

the pool's surface and startled the cats

from their slumber.


Pete's muzzle is grizzled now,

his bark tosses flute-like against the morning air

to frighten no one.

I am older.


The light seems changed, and winter blows warmer

as city buses' brakes shrill beside the house

to trouble my sleep.

I recall your nose, how prominent

and Roman at the end; that thin,

clarified line at the finish,

how your earlobes curled to shamrocks,

so soft beneath my fingertips,

still warm.