At the bottom of the dresser drawer
Under a twist of bras and
Ankle socks, I found the
Liner she used to protect the wood —
Or was it to protect the clothes? —
I’m not sure. Shouldn’t adults
Really know this now?
But I don’t line my drawers with
Newspaper. I don’t even receive
One anymore. How else have I
Let her down, dropped the ball on
All the better, best and bygone Ways?
Well, no more heat-and-eat Salisbury steak ovals
Floating in gravy are served, so
I’ve achieved that. That and
Lifting her onto the portable toilet when
Her legs became deadweight. And I achieved
Ordering the hospital bed, making
Small talk with the lanky boy-man who
Constructed it in the living room one day,
Then came back a few days later to
Pack it away. The damn chia seeds. Still
Behind the instant oats in Dad’s cupboard!
Why didn’t I toss them out with the
Pile of not-fine-enough-to donate t-shirts?
Ann and I had that flash of certainty,
Sure the old news in the drawer would be
Ancient, with ads for powdered penny soap and
Photos of mustachioed men. Where were you in
1999? She must have been standing right here
At the drawer on Timberline,
Laying out the paper, washing her hands before
Touching the whites, thinking her thoughts
About what’s for dinner and
Is there an afterlife and where exactly is
The Friday card group.
I was far away.
It was the El Nino year, the year
I bought my shirtwaist house, and forgot to water
The coreopsis, and for the last time
Gas was 99 cents a gallon. Then,
fear shaped itself as loneliness,
Not as a leaking bag body that takes 30 days to
Empty, that sloughs off eating,
Then walking, then speech,
And all muscle control
Like peeling skin on a