by Nadine Sabra Meyer

When D. said he’d had the impulse, thought it

               kindness to cover her face

in the goose down pillow, D. in all his clinical remove,

               wanting to stop her suffering,

and she, no longer able to swallow,

               her mouth stuck open,

a gurgling in the back of her throat, her voice

               taken and replaced

by a deep feathered silence, I felt

               the jump of pulse

in her neck, the kick as it thumped

               her hardening arteries,

the burst vessel bluing her temple,

               and knew now—after knowing all

these months she was dying— I wasn’t ready,

               though I’d thought I was

rational as D. knowing the inevitable

               which crests over all of us, was

cresting now over her, not ready and panicked

               in the undertow, a desperate need

to fight the great muscled ocean, my brother raising

               the pillow, the curls along his thick arms

graying, the great roiled undertow

               which pins us and blindly takes

all our unfathomable loves, our tender

               unmet needs and suffers them

to an abiding silence, my mother, her hands

               gripping the sheets where they’d

been folded, a grip so muted now, her whole

               bodily attention focused on continuance,

on beat and breathe, though I held her

               and cried, as they told me to,

and said, “You can go. It’s okay, you can go.”

NADINE SABRA MEYER’s first book of poems, The Anatomy Theater, won the National Poetry Series and was published by HarperCollins in 2006. Her poems have won the New Letters Prize for Poetry, the 2011 Meridian Editor’s Prize, and a Pushcart Prize. New poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Literary Imagination, Boulevard, Nimrod, North American Review, The Missouri Review and Blackbird. She is an assistant professor at Gettysburg College.