She fought for every breath, her daughter said.
So did my wife in her hospice bed,
So did I, yesterday, alone in the kitchen,
My throat narrowing between coughs
Like a curtain closing at play’s end
Then opening again,
Then a note from a friend,
A valve of his heart needs replacing.
It will be all right, I said, not knowing if it would.
It sucks, he said. These leaky sacks of fluid and bone,
How do they stay upright, stay hopeful for so long,
Calculate the weight of a star, make children laugh
By hearing their dog, then howling along?
(First published in Backchannels Poetry Edition, Spring 2023. Thanks to the editors.)