For my beloved M.
A nightingale, if such lived around here,
would have found me with vomit
between my toes
the night your grandmother died.
Being mostly past the electric slip-slide
of drinking until I puke, I wiped
& cleaned & tended to the body
of your daughter, who got the bedding, the carpet
& the floor with the contents of her stomach:
frozen blueberries, bile
& infant sadness
at having to go to sleep at all.
The next morning, our pale & shaking girl,
she could safely call her own
whirling in the other room, twice chose
the same spot on the floor
to fall asleep, despite gestures
towards the inherited couch & my pillowy
whatnots. When we got the news,
the surprise-not-surprise of a woman miserable
in her body, dying, our routine was still shaky
& the machine in the other room
into your mother’s ear.
This morning, the news went,
is that as we settled into deep grateful sleep
last night, your grandmother died. The details are sparse
but final: how she'd refused to leave her nest
of blankets the last few days. How she’d gone
pale & featureless, an old friend
asking the sad clinical air at the desk
where they’d moved her
after viewing the painful thing
in the bed.
I like to think that it wasn’t only a posture
of pain, that your grandmother curled
around herself in the end,
kept herself company the way you
obstinately kept our daughter company
those first few months
when she was new & almost formless
& I was nervous about having her
in our bed. I like to think that
your grandmother was obstinate
in her going
because you should know
that I will be obstinate too.