This beautiful poem by Ash Dean was written when he was caring for his terminally ill great-grandmother. Illustration by Grace Lanksbury.
To me, she was always all wrinkles,
As frail as eggshell and embellished with lace.
My lasting image is of her beaming face
When she opened the door
But the more I age the less I can ignore
Another scene projecting in my head
Of her sitting still in a hospital bed
And the first time her smile ever struck me
As forced and stuck.
She reached out for my hand like a child and froze,
Staring vacantly past me as I nervously smiled.
Her mouth began to gape
As if waiting for something deep to escape
So her tongue could prise it from her stomach.
“I’m scared Ashley, I don’t want to die,
What will happen to me?”
And I could see that with all her humility
She could not allow herself the comfort of eternal grace
But just a simple space
Tearful, she waited for me to stir.
I could only think
How someone so open and joyful had forever led me towards a glow
And how in this togetherness still
I follow where her feelings go.
“I’m scared too,
I don’t want to lose you.
I don’t know what comes after life,
No one does,
So we call it death
And attach to it things to cling on to.
But I don’t want you to worry yourself.
Embrace all the happiness you have had
And carry it through every moment until your last.
What is yours in the last can never be lost.”
Delicate, we rested, heavy with feeling,
Sharing not words
But the thin protection of our being.
This poem featured in The Mystery Issue of Popshot Quarterly.
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