January, A Love Story

When this time of year arrives, I’m
back in the car,
no more than nine or ten,
outside school.

She has curly hair, vibrancy,
a cigarette, h
olding it elegantly. 

She loves me, says it incessantly and
h
er love puts me at peace.
I remember that feeling;
she always knows what I need and
s
he’s trying her best, I now see.
All of that love just seems normal to me,
and I reckon all the moms do this with their babies.
I now see they didn’t. 

When this time of year arrives, I’m
b
ack in my son’s bedroom, he’s no more than nine or ten,
we’re playing air hockey on his bed when the phone rings.

She’s had a heart attack, she will likely not last.
And now we’re packing —

Books, games, comfortable clothes?
Funeral dress?
Remember to bring some nice shoes, her voice says.
Not sure what this feeling is, I’m wheeling
the clothes, the shoes, the grandchild through
Penn Station. Seems everyone senses from my face what this trip must mean. 

The last time. The last time I get to kiss her
or resist her or rub her feet or hug her,
the last chance to return all that love to her.
Somehow. In a matter of hours.

I will never forget that next day,
my cheek resting on her belly when it rises for the last time,
Listening for answers I already have. 

 

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