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,