as the winter sky cools on its way to night.
You ask me “… before you go, can you …” And I do.
Unwilling to go, needing to go, I organize items
on the table, as if anointing them for you, talk you
through the maze of meds, the need to eat something,
anything all day. I swirl and spin the hospital furniture --
the walker, the tables into place. Your prayer books
next to the phone, small laboratory cups of mouth
washes for who remembers why there are three of them.
I make my way to Second Avenue, chase the subway car,
look up to see a woman giggling. I must have missed
a transient, funny incident on the platform. She wants
me to join her, I do, smile back, blink and recall the last thing
you asked. “Would you take a hot cloth, wash my face …”
as my grandmother did on cold mornings knowing
each child would tiptoe on chilled wooden planked floors
as my mother did for me to gentle me into mornings.
I reach my stop and think quite possibly, I forgot
to warm your face as night falls in a place where
the weather never changes, where you live just for me.

Copyright © 2019 by Maria Lisella. This poem originally appeared in SHREW, Issue 10. Used with the permission of the author.