What Stayed

I found you in the morning. Curled in the corner.
Your rich walnut back and coconut belly coat
cuddled in a tiny crescent. Still upon the sawdust.
He’s just gone to sleep, she told me,
from kind cradled arms.
I said some words and wept and then I buried you
in a hole that took ten minutes to dig.

I can’t remember the name I gave you
but I can summon from that memory your light weight,
how you fit my palm as I carried you to the garden.

.

We met in the hospital, followed the nurse down the stairs,
crept into the ward and found you, tucked in tight,
and then we gathered at the side of the bed,
closed the curtains, watched as the nurse attended,
and your breathing quickened and then it slowed
and your cheeks lost their volume
and your complexion shallowed
and your chest deflated
and your shoulders sank
and your head dropped to the side
and you went quiet.

Your old, gruff voice I can’t quite recall.
What stayed was the weight of your heavy hand,
cold and coarse, as I held it to say goodbye.

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