things I can do

for Sylvia

I can brush your hair, squeeze this tube of medicated moisture onto green sponge
       and through your open mouth. I can run my oiled fingers across your dried lips,

hold your hand, I can still hold your hands. I can file and paint your nails same as
       always, I can play you all the sad songs I know on ukulele. I surprise myself, I can pray

to a god I don't remember kindly. I can cry sometimes. I can check with the nurses:
       Is it time for medicine? Is it time? It is time for medicine. I can read to you from a book

that I will not finish once you are gone. I can sit quietly in a room with family that has not
       felt like family for so long; since they piece by pieced you years too early. I can tell

myself and my mother that we are all here because we love. I can try to make myself believe.
       I can brush your hair, put on your favourite music, squeeze this tube of medicated

moisture onto green sponge. I can check if you are breathing. I can call the nurse: It is time
       for medicine. I can phone with an update. I can cry, can argue over brands of morphine.

When no one else is around I can smoke, quickly. I can rush back; find you breathing.
   Run my oiled finger across your lips, I can wash your face. Move a warm cloth over your hands

and rub Ponds into the whisper thin creases of you. I can watch and wince as nurses change
       another diaper, I can cry, I can wait, I can kiss your fingers. I can thank and thank and

       thank. I can say goodbye into your ear, knowing that it is good. I can drive to the airport.
I can fly home, I can hear your voice. I can hear your voice.