“A sorting through” by Kate Oksas

You were in the hospital

and I was in the hospital
visiting.
With my mom
in the blue-paper gowns
I slumped against the wall outside
the room.
Inside you wore a gown as well and with my mom you talked about
some aspect some
uncomfortable
detail of the clothes you wore,
or bathroom trips,
or something else
I didn’t want to hear.
I sat against the wall and looked the hallway
up
and down
and put on a smile for the nurse who walked by and gave me a look like,
Kid what are you doing curled up against a wall?
And I was
embarrassed and
I tried to think
about anywhere, and everywhere, and somewhere just not here.
And I remember when you had bruises,
and age spots, dappled autumn hands
and my sister and I looked at them and Gramo said,
They’re ugly, it’s okay to say it
and I had no desire to grow old.
I am eighteen.
We all have moments, I think, when our world hangs suspended
and we can’t think straight for fear of drowning.
And I want to write something, perhaps,
because when I join you, well that might be a very long string of words
or just this string of words
I don’t know.
So I think
that you loved each other
much better than I love at eighteen
and I think I never really understood at all, anything
From band-aids to lipstick
I never knew who you were
so
(it’s looking like this may turn out as the long string of words)
I want to
tell who I am so I know who you are, who you were.

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