Family Leave

by Laura McCollough Moss

That's it

don't be restless now

Dial soap

hot water in a plastic basin

squeeze the cloth tight

wrap it around your hand

like a mitt

never forgot that

press the moist, clean-smelling warmth

gently against her face and

hear the grateful sigh

Wipe the eyes carefully

outward from the inside corner

each side of the nose

wet the lips



"I was thinking,"

she rasps

"About the restaurant.

Mike could make up boxed lunches.

He could have specials with

a different sandwich featured every day."

There's a pause while I stare into the cloudy water

tears piercing my eyes

She looks at me

"What's wrong Honey?"

I look at her

really look

we both know her time is fading

"I'm just sad that you won't be there."

I take her hand and clean between the fingers.

There's so little I can do and yet

it is everything.

She doesn't look now

closes her eyes

"I'll be there,"

she says

Picking up the towel

I know

 she will.