I knew the dying was coming—
knew her heart struck twelve
because I couldn’t sleep,
could only gaze out at the hallway,
past my door as it creaked
on its hinges, the wind outside
the open window running
its hands over everything in sight.
If I closed my eyes, I could pretend
it was my grandmother, running
her fingers through my hair.
I knew my father would call soon,
stranded at the hospital with her,
not wanting me
or my brother to see death so young.
I knew the lawyer would stop by,
present us with her
will. I didn’t know she’d leave
my brother her rocking chair,
and me: my favorite breakfast—
her recipe for buttered biscuits.
Didn’t know my father’s face
could glisten with tears or how hard
I’d sob, or how my mother’s palm
would smooth back my hair
me as we watched the coffin descend
into the ground, my grandmother
making her way into eternal life,
as the priest promised.
I wish I believed in eternal life.
It’s too much work to try
to imagine a realm without darkness,
toads, nothing with claws.
It’s too hard to believe in her
cheering for me up above.
But how tempting it is to have faith
in her floating like pollen above us,
the clouds blurring her angles,
her body all tangled up with God’s.
first published in Prairie Schooner
Despy Boutris is published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, Palette Poetry, Third Coast, Raleigh Review, Diode, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast.