She left a bit at a time
over years and years of loss
that seeped like a leak
from a crack in the foundation
of the family.
She held it together.
I don’t know how.
When I think of my mother
I see someone vague in a shell.
Full and yet empty.
Like a cloud in a jar.
Or ghosts in a room,
her self was haunted like that.
Watching her leave me
now she’ll remember my name,
remember my face,
remember my dreams
and my soul crushing disappointments,
at least the ones I told her about
which weren’t many because
I’d never understood that she’d lived a life too
and she’d understand
Being beaten up in a cemetery at midnight,
Being hurt and lost and excited
And betrayed and joyous and in love and everything
else it means to be a human at the mercy of mystifying forces
a woman at the mercy of every goddamned thing in this world.
I never understood that she’d be there no matter what.
I never understood that she’d love me anyway.
I never understood that she needed me to know her
beyond how I knew her.
It’s hard to miss someone you never really knew,
however ever-present they were.
Who was I with her?
Who am I without her?
Who were we together?
I watched closely as she left us.
So closely, each second a long pause
before the next second.
Inexorably, her skeleton made itself known
beneath the surrender of her skin,
the hollow of her mouth.
The heat of her hands seared us.
Dad couldn’t understand how she could be leaving,
even as her hands were hot and felt like life on fire.
I had heard of a golden thread that ushers the spirit
through the skull to the heavens.
I looked for it.
I looked hard and long,
for hours and days.
I had always been the one to leave.
Couldn’t wait to get away.
This time it was her turn, and I understood
what it feels like
to be left by someone you love.
But as I watched her leave,
She’s nearer than she’s ever been.