Author’s Comment: This poem was triggered by the difficulty of witnessing the dying and ultimate death of my dear aunt, listening to her regrets and feeling a sense of guilt for gathering her belongings, furniture, and clothes and disposing of them.
My maiden aunt lies in that uneasy truce
between living and dying, cradled in the calm
of hospice on the health care wing. Each day,
another small loss. We falter through shards
of conversation—what about the good times? Tell me
about those family dinners, vacations in the Catskills…
but she dwells on the loneliness of being left behind,
her four sisters dead, nieces and nephews who play dead
all year long. On the dresser, a black and white
photo of the tight Italian family. Better times. Each day,
my aunt grows smaller, yet she is a giant in the shadow
of her misery. Her apartment is now bare,
prepared for new tenants: rose-colored sofa and chairs,
mahogany hutch, old hope chest, all sent to auction.
Last week, I donated her clothes. She smiled
when I told her the shop ladies were thrilled
with her tailored black wool coat and the turquoise silk
dress and matching jacket. I told her the ladies admired
her impeccable taste. We are near the end.
Each day, another small loss, and truth becomes the intruder.
She will never know how I crammed her things
into jumbo plastic bags, then dropped them off
at the shop’s back door. Just some women’s clothes, I said.
I don’t need a receipt.
Irene Fick’s poem was published in the Delmarva Review, Volume 12. Her second collection of poetry, The Wild Side of the Window, was published by Main Street Rag (2018) and received a first-place award from The National Federation of Press Women, as did her first book, The Stories We Tell (The Broadkill Press, 2014). Her poems have been published in Poet Lore, Gargoyle, the Broadkill Review, Philadelphia Stories and (forthcoming) The Blue Mountain Review.
Delmarva Review’s thirteenth annual edition will publish on November 1 with the best of original new poetry and prose, from sixty-four writers, chosen from thousands of submissions during the year. For more information, see the website: www.DelmarvaReview.org.