Why did you leave me that night
terrified, all alone in that big house
sloppy and stumbling and then throwing up
and not remembering and chewing pills
and taking long gulps of gin and vodka, why
did you leave, how could you?

And when she asked, “Resolved?”
I said yes.
And she marked it down on the chart then
said, as an afterthought
“I guess those things are never really resolved though.”

Old T-Shirt

Permanently sweat-stained
and perpetually smelly at the pits
from long hikes under the beating sun
no matter how many washings
still retains spaghetti sauce spatters
we cooked long and slow for penne
in the summer evenings
worn away at the hems from eager hands
children shrieking, grabbing, tugging
hoisting up a happy giggle to my ear
with graphics worn down, the heart bleaching
words fading and flaking away
in the detergent and tumbling heat
old T-shirt, in stitches
holding my memories with care

When Grandparents Die

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.