He just hasn’t made my bed yet,
she used to say, when the ground grew too hard
and she’d sit on a pillow to weed the garden,
when her skin had been folding up for years
and her world had long been slipping toward silence.
It wasn’t that she wanted to leave us,
but I think she was tired.
Did she picture sheets made of stars, smooth
and tucked in like clouds, maybe
smelling like spring blossoms, or like old pine?
Did she dream of quilts crafted by
his careful hand, filled to the binding
with a century’s worth of stories—did she want to see
his gentle smile as he drew the covers to her chin,
did she imagine clean summer wind
as she slipped away to rest at last?
She left so much behind, even my house bends
to gather the pieces. My mother tends
bereaved orchids at the window and keeps
one of her blankets on the living room couch, which
I’ve been hiding under and wondering
if we got it backwards all along: could it be
we were the ones who made the bed, smoothing
sheets and trembling at the emptiness beneath,
the best our human hands could do—
we braced ourselves for night, and
maybe we were wrong,
maybe he burst into the room and threw back the curtains,
maybe he pulled her up as sunlight streamed in
and he sang in his joy, I couldn’t wait
to wake you, there is so much for us to do today,
so many birds and trees and flowers to see,
mountains to scale with your new strong knees and
rivers to splash with your new young feet,
a whole city to show you and all your friends
looking for you, my darling,
my little girl, get up!