by Peter Cooley
I sat beside my mother while she died.
The light within the room was pale and weak.
The light would come and go, just like her breath.
She couldn’t speak. The light spoke both of us.
The light said it was planning to leave soon.
The light said you will have to rise
to this occasion you have never met.
The preparations for a funeral or not a funeral.
A cremation. An obituary. A burial.
Then what to do with Dad, a room away.
He’s fallen asleep, anticipating grief
or sleeping for some reason you will have to face.
The light said I can go no farther now.
I’ll be back later. I have other works.
The words will come to you in thirty seconds.
She’s taking her next-to-last breath right now.
Listen, the rasp. She’s taking her last breath—