You don’t think much about phone calls
until it’s your mom’s voice relaying
something about a heart attack and
that awful phrase “make it through the night”
and a one-way flight to faraway elsewhere.
You don’t think much about hospitals
until your grandma is lying in one
bloated, face inflated from the IV
flooding her full of salt. Hold hands,
play hangman and pray she remembers words.
You don’t think much about cancer
until it is extracted with a scalpel
from your dad’s neck, ’til your family owns it
and cancer causes grandpa to lose his speech,
scaring you as a child as he hacks blood.
Now you think constantly about family,
of picture books and pencil sets, vacation,
hugs and lozenges and lightning bugs,
libraries, letters, turtle figurines, a pin
collection, catnaps, apples and cobbler,
of tears and memories and summer strolls.