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Making Arrangements
by CB Follett

I sit on the unmade bed,
my mother’s, and stare
at the photograph of my father
on her desk.

She’s coming, I say to him.
Please be there to meet her.

Downstairs in the Nursing Center
my mother is leaking energy
like a slow balloon.

Yesterday she had enough
to laugh at a memory;
today her body is bent
like a comma, her head
too heavy to lift.

How do you say good by
without admitting it is?
How do you tell someone
you’ve known over sixty years

that she has done well:
mother, teacher, citizen, woman?
We have been skirting issues
for years.

This morning, she tells me
she has bought a new dress
for Adele’s wedding – blue, she thinks,
maybe pink.

This afternoon she tells me
the band on her wrist says
Do not resuscitate, tells me
her affairs are in the lower left drawer
of her desk, says do what you want –
body, service, things.

Tomorrow I fly home
across the long continent,
ready to return – soon –
probably soon.

I lean over and kiss her, say
I love you.
I love you too, she says,
Safe journey.

You too
, I whisper close to her ear,
You have a safe journey.

I look again at my father’s portrait.
Blond hair, wavy on top, his face
turned three quarters, eyes looking
into the middle distance.

She’s needed you for sixty years.
She needs you now.
Be there,
I say, please.

And I let myself hear him
say, I will.


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