The death of old women
Our mothers: we’ve described
symptoms you rarely share
outside the family home
and not often there: a scalp
affliction, the body’s efforts
without conscious consent, it seems
to breathe. What kills us:
lack of air. And how death comes
like someone climbing weary stairs
for the last time, forbearing
to ever look back again
on the view below. I mentioned
a blue colouring like the shading of a lamp.
You described a fearful rattling sound.
Not all of these were shared. Death
is individually tailored, like all things.
A dusty angel, with heavy wings
and a pocket of tools, like a lock-breaker
but gentleness as well, a concern
to take each prize into his hands.
©Elizabeth Smither 2004