Oxygen—died on March 12, 2012. At
first, it came in heavy green canisters.
Then a large rolling machine that
pushed air day and night. When my
mother changed her clothes, she
had to take the tube out of her nose.
She stopped to catch her breath, as
if breath were constantly in motion,
as if it could be chased. I'm not sure
when I began to notice her panic
without the oxygen, in the way we don't
notice a leaf turning red or an empire
falling. One day, it just appears, as if
it had been there all along. Like the
hospice staff with their papers, bags
of medicine, their garlands of silence.
Like grief, the way it dangles from
everything like earrings. The way grief
needs oxygen. The way every once in
a while, it catches the light and starts
smoking. The way my grief will die with
me. The way it will cleave and grow
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