I fold you in my arms with a sigh,
your body, frail and bony.
No amount of peanut butter and bacon sandwiches
can bring you back.
“Am I dying?” you ask me.
My mind screams, “Yes!”
but I repeat what the doctor told me:
“It’s up to you, Mom.”
You chew through a scavenged plate of bacon
and lick your fingers like the Yupik grandmothers
consuming a mountain of dried fish.
But when this brief flare of desire fizzles,
your purple feet tell the tale;
I massage each foot with devotion
until it moves from frigid to lukewarm,
as if I could will you to live.
McCourt’s Teacher Man,
a good read, a good laugh, goes unread;
instead, you turn within to whisper
with those who have gone before.
I stroke a strand of hair from your face,
sharp intake of breath binding the pieces of my heart together.
In a dream I hug you again
and we go flying through the dark in a couch of a car,
lifting off the tarmac to a weightless space,
and waiting in suspense for the landing.