What I Remember, Perhaps not Accurately, About My Grandmother in the Last Few Months Before She Died

Tobacco stains the inside of two fingers,
nails still strong, tapered, painted
an off-white shade that glistens.
She raises the cigarette to lips
thinned and ridged with age.
Her stained teeth an ugly yellow, like the walls
of her kitchen, yellow
of a fading bruise, yellow
that shades the whites of her eyes
casts a shadow of illness on skin.

She smells, faintly, of rot.

Cancer riddles her pancreas
hidden between stomach and spine, nestled
in the curve of intestine.
A scrum of cells swirl, clump,
scour the painful red of dying tissue.

We sit at her kitchen table.
She tells me she loves me,
her mouth more grimace than smile.

back to issue