"Just waiting," you said
as if for a plane or a phone call;
for the tub to fill
with grime or feces or
rose water.

It is
less than an act of mercy
and presents its own small tortures
things to moan over and reach for
before the morphine
and the tube-fed oxygen.
I know what she's feeling, your matriarch,
death is a blessing
and that is a wafer she craves
will melt like sugar on her dry tongue.
She is frothing and leaking exhaustion
a toxic fuse
upon which she chokes,
the rattle of her breath
is a chamber quartet
a creaky solo fiddle whose
last colors are shining.

What do you want from her? What more?
You keep your tears in sacks under your eyes
and they will break come that
day of days.
Do you think you are brave?
I see everything past winter clearly.
We three of my father are oddlings:
we do not grieve of guilt;
the youngest is too selfish and would
cry more for her cat;
the eldest is uncomfortable and thinks
dry eyes will finally prove him a man;
and I—
am screwed, to put it bluntly.

But see her
disoriented and lost
forgetting that she is home
and begging to leave.

And you just sit around—
waiting, of all things—
just waiting for her to
draw her last:
the portrait collapse
and eat itself up.