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I Wasn’t There

Subhaga Crystal Bacon

Cancer came and took a lung,
then came and took the rest
of him. And I wasn’t there though
I’d spent more than my paid time off
to sit beside him as he lay
on the couch, often with my cheek
on his half empty chest, his hand
still large in the knuckles, on my head.

In his pain the night before, my mother
had given him the morphine, maybe
she gave him a little more. That’s how
grief can be: a pain so deep you
aim where you can for relief. The doctor
said he might not die peacefully in his sleep.

And he didn’t. He died after waking
for a moment to look at my mother,
naked in her love, and take his leave.