To leave us the way she wanted, she held
her tongue, hid the diagnosis
until her illness would no longer be denied.
It stripped her power over the truth as it sapped
her strength and ate her resolve.
No longer denied, the cancer became
a glutton for attention simply by being
there. Her weakness, her pains, her clenched lungs,
our tears, near-constant callers and over-staying guests.
No to therapies, no to drugs stronger
than Advil p.m., no even to in-home aides until
that last week. If the dying can not
be selfish in dying, when can they be?
No to a funeral, no to a viewing,
just spread her out around her yard
and her garden; let wind and rain,
sparrow and squirrel carry her off.
If life can't take away the dead,
what is worth taking?
The last coughing, the wish for
one last smoke, sweet as
that first one, and 26 minutes later
our tears visited again.