What the Hospice Returned
The slippers with the flattened heels that flopped
Across the hardwood floor, bare of all mats
That might have caught your careless foot and dropped
Your brittle, bony self to smash like pots,
A nightdress folded but unlaundered (Why?
So that a mourner might recall your scent?),
Pajamas, also dirty, with a dry
Blood-patch from when they changed a leaky stent,
Four get-well cards, each one absurdly serious,
Not one bought from the card shop section “Humor”
(I guess there’s nothing too hilarious
About a fully ripened fourth-stage tumor),
The bra that held your one remaining boob,
Dresses and skirts, a loofah and a hat,
A toothbrush and a rolled-up toothpaste tube
(We argued when you wouldn’t squash it flat
To get the last), your books, page corners turned,
Showing how deep in them you’d ferretted
(So many words now blotted from your  mind,
So many pages now always unread),
And finally, this clear plastic bag,
Of things you prized--a brooch, a solitaire,
Earrings that caused your wrinkly lobes to sag,
A locket holding snips of grandkids’ hair,
And this pearl choker, lying in a twist
So that it now appears a sideways eight,
Sign of infinity, where you now exist,
Where all of us are headed, soon or late--
And now it’s like the analemmic whorl
Upon a globe, a ribbon folded neat
That tells us where the sun will rise and fall
But gives off not a calorie of heat.
James Dempsey

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  James Dempsey  would be pleased to hear them.