There are too many women
in my life that have disappeared.
It wasn’t enough to take my sister,
who trusted me, believed in me.
It wasn’t enough to take my wife’s sister,
who was nursed back by my wife.
It wasn’t enough to then take my wife,
and leave her broken on the ground,
only a fraction of who she once was.
I am left wondering if all this taking is over,
or should I prepare for the next storm.
We lost you not long after your wedding.
There were pictures of your honeymoon.
You were standing under a waterfall
In a bikini and cut off shirt. They say
You started to make strange comments
After that, as if your mind had been plucked
From the present and re-situated
In your past. The ability to swallow
Went first. You choked on water then words.
You forgot who your husband was, but I like
To think you remembered me when you smiled.
Once I walked you to your bed, our hands clutched
Into one fist. You got a feeding tube not long
After that. When we undressed you, a smile
of achievement crossed your skeletal lips
In the mirror. You never grew old
When it was just you and me, it was
Always bran cereal and bananas
For breakfast. You used to let me dress up
In your costume jewelry and sequined evening
Gowns. Even the disease could not steal
Your vanity. We all flew to Washington
To say our final goodbyes. You’d been trapped
Inside that withering body half my childhood.
It was the first time I’d been in a room
Alone with you since I was seven. I knelt
By your hospital bed and prayed. I wanted
To believe your semi-vegetative state
Gave half of you to me and half your consciousness
To God- that you saw the afterlife and me
At the same time. I promised
When I died we’d be together. You died
A week later and visited me. We had
Breakfast together, the healthy bran cereal
Kind. I feel you from time to time
I dream you when I sleep. I like to think
I’m your favorite, your soul grandchild.