Nicole Homer WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT YOU WERE GOING TO DIE AT 6:42 PM

When you blinked your way awake
and into the bright world at 6am.
When your husband, turned on his side, reached out
and touched your breast for the last time
When you hurried his hand away
this morning, just like last night,
sure of at least 17 more years
and ignoring the insistent siren of your nipple.
When you chose the least flattering pants you owned,
a tan and cream disaster with fuchsia accents
all polyester and flammable,
because who were you really going to see today?
When you ate eggs
again.
When, over the phone, you told your oldest daughter
that you would write it down for her,
later,
and she could come by in her foreign car and pick it up–
it being the recipe for German potato salad
that every neighbor had asked for at least once.
When you thought of your firstborn,
mouthed his name without meaning to,
lied to the woman at the grocery store
who asked you if you had just said something.
When you couldn’t, for a whole 97 seconds,
remember the name of the son who had survived.
When you thought suddenly about praying
but couldn’t think of the German word for memory 
instead mouthed, again, your boy’s name
and thought of his hair
of the 2 days he was your only child
of the thirty four years since you buried him.
When you stumbled walking from the car to house
and blamed your bad ankle,
the too bright sun,
sleepiness.

When you blinked
and never stopped.

When your body sat in a bed, heart beating like there was time left.
When your children came in the middle their of lives,
stove burners on
babysitters angry
bosses threatening.

When your husband touched your face
and no hand rose to hurry it away.

When a son whose name you would not remember ever again
was asked
if the machine should continue its in-and-out hiss

When he nodded his head.

 
 
NICOLE HOMER’s

work can found in Not a Muse: The Inner Lives of Women (New Haven Press, 2009) and His Rib: Poems, Stories & Essays By Her (Penmanship Books, 2007), and featured on the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Podcast (performancepoetry.indiefeed.com). She currently lives in New Jersey. 

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