On the Eve of Nana’s Passing
by Laura Traverse
In this room where your son once died, we hold your hand. Our fingers river together like the veins on your arm. Everything is slow. This is what death sounds like. We tether to you: you, our center of limbs and sheets, pressed down and quiet. Knees warm in laps, coves, we make a circle of watching. We surround you with photographs piled in dust, and we lean on time. It stills between your gasps. It sounds like you are choking.
We sing hymns. Stoic Papa, with his stiffly ironed reserve, bent over with a red-rimmed stuttering: Please, Lord. Help Doris know that we—silence cuts. We hear your throat catch breath again. –that we are here. He shakes, gray hands pressed into worn down cheeks.
You sleep like no one is watching.
Tinder, our prayers.
Laura Traverse lives in New Haven, CT, and is nearly finished with her theology and literature studies at Yale Divinity School. She is a trained doula and avid tea drinker. She aspires to write poems that tell stories of birth & family & death & prayer.