by Clara Hsu

for Nai-Nai

She ascends to the surface,
a natural yet mysterious interruption
from her long vegetation.
For those around,
her half-opened eyes give hope,
as if this faint light between
the inescapable descent
means progress towards life.

In the trickling of time
between the coming and going
of visitors and caregivers
she checks her body stealthily,
turns down the heart beat,
her stomach, liver,
kidneys, and nerve cells
after savoring and thanking them
for functioning,
when in her youth
she has taken them all
for granted.

In her mind there is
the photo of a young girl
with a huge bouquet
in a full blown white dress,
and a stiff portrait
of the family before
the children leave home.
She closes her cookbook,
folds the secret recipes;
her love file, long,
indeterminable list
of names, tugged
safely in a compartment,
sealed, ready to travel
when the journey begins.

Christine puts a ring
on her finger.
She does not feel the cold
metal and the scraping
on her flesh
as it encircles her.

Her lingering is for them
to perform their own ritual
of giving,
of loving,
of mourning.

In the morning
after the grandchildren are fed
and ushered to school,
she lets the sun go.

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