I Fed Her Blueberries
The day before she died,
I fed my mother blueberries,
watching her savor their sweet summer juice.
Tomorrow, I’ll bring you strawberries,
I said, not seeing shadows sliding near.
Now, I watch her shallow breathing—
sudden stops, pauses, then starts again,
her indomitable engine sputtering,
her skin fading to gray,
her eyes shuttered down.
Taking turns we hold her hand—cool and dry.
We talk to her, placing the phone by her better ear
when my brother calls to say his goodbye.
Oxygen makes breathing easier.
Morphine does the rest.
Her last breath a long, soft sigh,
as July fireworks light the night,
shooting sparks of silver and gold
across the arc of the moon.
Days later, reluctant to say goodbye,
I still carry her nursing home clothes,
photos and toiletries in blue plastic bags
that fill my car’s trunk.
My mother visits me in childhood memories:
I see her at evening in her rose-colored armchair,
knitting a navy cardigan sweater,
glancing occasionally at the evening news
as she inhales from a half-smoked cigarette.
My multi-tasking mother!
Worn down finally at 101.
I’d like to think she’s lolling
on a featherbed in the firmament,
quilted in lace and silk, willing to rest at last,
but my bet is she’s in a garden, chasing aphids.