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Things that will happen before the end
park benches
Things that will happen before the end

Your liver spots will grow larger and fiercer
and that, of everything, will really disgust my sisters

I'll drive you forty minutes to the hospital every day.
Every day you'll say "oh look, they have a Clemens!"

Your hair will fall out and we'll shave the rest.
You'll hate that. Really hate it.

Your hands will shake and I'll tie your shoe laces.
You'll tsk at me and pretend you're healthy and smack my fingers.

You'll insist I used salt, not sugar, in the apple crisp
You'll be wrong but I'll say "hmmm maybe."

You'll bite down hard on your utensils and chip a denture
Eventually you'll just stop wearing them, so it doesn't matter.

When you chew, food will dribble down your chin
You'll be angry, we'll dismiss it because really, we'll be doing our best

You'll cry
but not as much as I would, if it was me

I'll sleep in your old bedroom, you'll sleep in the kid's room
where the bed is closer to the ground
and the carpet is bright pink
and the door doesn't lock.
I'll listen for you, even in my sleep.
You'll lock yourself in the bathroom and I'll call your neighbor
at midnight to pick the lock. We'll remove it.
I'll sleep with my door open so you wake me when you get up.
I'll listen to you in the bathroom.
One night, you'll fall. You'll piss yourself, piss the floor.
You'll cry.
You'll tell me you were lost in a daydream, thinking of the Cherokee.
I'll put you in the shower, on that old white plastic chair
you got for my grandfather, before he died, a decade ago.
I'll clean the floor. I'll wash your legs. I'll change your nightshirt.
You'll cry.
I'll walk you back to the bedroom. You'll lean on me, heavy.
I'll tuck you in.
I'll shake and sob in the other room staring at the telephone
I'll know you can't hear me because I took out your hearing aid.
I'll wait to call my mom til 7 so I don't wake her.
We'll laugh, hysterical, frustrated and terrified

When you wake up, I'll make you toast and tea.
You'll try to eat the teabag.
I'll take it away and watch you closer.

I'll leave you when my classes start.
We'll sell your home. We'll throw away things we find.
We won't know why you kept them. Neither will you.

Your new bedroom will be my mother's living room.
We'll buy a hosipital bed at an auction.
My mother will start cleaning you.

You'll label photos from 50 years ago, remembering every face.
Your children will sit around dining room tables talking in hushed voices.
I'll resent them for showing up too late.

You'll scream in the dark for people we don't know.
We'll lie to you and say they're coming.

You beg for your mother, who died when I was 3.
We'll say "shhh she's in kitchen fixing dinner. It's ok."

When I visit you on Thanksgiving you'll wimper my name in pain.
You'll cry and beg me to help you.
I won't visit again. I won't be there.


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