On the Day You Are Dying
for Marian Lucille Whitsel, June 25 1928-March 12, 2013
On the day you are dying I check weather
reports, put a fresh tube in my bicycle tire. I close
the page on the stock market, play toss
and fetch with a black Lab for better than an hour.
All afternoon the sun licks the neighbors’
lawns as patiently as an old cat.
Sap in the cherry trees rises from a murmur
to a steady chug. Bumblebees waft to crocus
from Chinese witch-hazel and flowering plum.
I rummage through an old poem, wash
a new pan; crush garlic, mince onion,
chop cilantro with an orange habanero—
mash the guacamole for supper.
On the day you work bravely at dying I cry
for the years of gardens my father raised.
I rub my often-sore elbow for all your pains.
You are getting in your gossamer slippers,
I am sobbing a little in the West.
I promise I’ll write the IRS to explain; promise
to wash the car. I bow to daffodils for their
stabbing audacity in grim weeks of winter.
I remember your long bus ride
to watch me graduate. On the dying day, this day
I think about your cap and gown.