Milk-wet chin nose-near to cornflakes,
granola crumblies, Grape-Nuts’ crunch
reverberate through skull/bone/tissue...
Mama's in that round house too, still
amused at how I hold the outsides of my wrists
supporting my hanging face
so palms won't sweat-cake acne,
and Daddy's near the outer range of milk-scent,
as in life, jingling keys.
"I never wanted to leave him," she said
in her hospital bed... "He was the one I wanted;
only, I wanted him different."
* * *
I don't keep milk in this house, but
from this air-con comes the scent of soggy cornflakes,
dilating breathing passageways and the doorway she complained,
via morphine-sogged brain (to her own dead mama) she
just couldn't get through.
So many days of dying,
Daddy having died so quickly,
never even knowing he was going.
"Are you alright?" she asked, in the ambulance,
after the accident. "Mm-hm," his reassuring
last words, from a sloshed cerebrum.
A second more and his arm began its crazy rattling.
She must have felt it all leaving:
his big voice, angry Italian eyes softened by age,
secret lotto tickets, the doling out of a tiny Social Security stipend...
How is it I can know
they live in two different parts
While cancer kept crowding her innermost space,
shrinking her back to little-girl size,
I read the hospice pamphlet, learned "death rattle,"
tell-tale rale her open mouth would flutter
in the small hours before the last 7:19 a.m.,
Not a Sunday after all, as I had thought,
but a Saturday, a morning,
a Saturday morning.
* * *
My tallest brother and the coroner carried her
sheeted body down the stairs and into the station wagon/hearse,
which drove off at normal speed, leaving
us, a house unfilled with cartoon sounds,
an unmade breakfast,