I scan your face for remnants of the you
you were before.

Inspecting the corners of your mouth
as you layer your bedsheet and quilt
for what must be the ten thousandth time.

Swift intentional movements.
Cotton tangled around your fingers,
a mess of threads from past and present.

During a funeral you pull two orange cream candies
from your purse and unwrap them.

“Quick, and nobody notices.”

We each pop one between our lips.
You nudge me when Aunt Letha falls out before the casket,
talking in tongues.

Careful not to make eye contact,
we soak up every decibel
of each other’s wheezing laugh.

A crescendo.
A dysfunctional family choir
of echoing heaves until we’re slapping at our knees.

I feel the entire fourth of our cells synchronized,
dancing between our gasps.

During the reception you pull food coloring and qtips
from your pocketbook when we learn the markers dried up.

We drench napkins with red 40 doodles
as you remind me not to eat the meat on the bone.

“In this family, it’s never done.”

When we’ve finished our plates and run out of ink,
you lift the bag over your shoulder and stand to go.
I am amazed at how easily you hoist the weight of it all.

It seems too heavy to carry alone.

The strap leaves a permanent dent in the soft of your trapezius.
My eyes linger on that remaining crater.
The proof you are still here enough.

I hope the void I leave too becomes a vessel
for everyone I dared to love so deep.

I am lucky to inherit
the holiest well on the hottest day
a burrow and a nest

a sweet tooth cavity
a dimple in my cheek
the curve of a winding road home

the arc of a wish bone
begging to know the loving  
is never quite done.