Maxine Scates – Limbo

Maxine Scates

I still wore the cut-offs I’d hurried into her room
wearing that morning, and, as we inched
toward an off-ramp in the valley
after going to the mortuary and the cemetery
to make arrangements for the mass, the music
and the lowering, something shimmered,
hovered the way it had all day, the way
a month or so ago when I’d walked into her room
and awakened her, she told me
her daughter had died,
and I said, No, I’m still here. But she insisted
because it was taking her longer and longer
to come back from where she had begun to dwell,
minutes later asking when
were they coming for the body? My body,
though she did not seem to know who I was,
until finally, fully awake, she mused, I think
I’m the one who is supposed to die. But
I think she was right,
part of me did die with her. She took the stories
she still told me, what she’d told herself
her whole life to get by. She was all
that held them here. They surface now,
break up, winged bits of light,
like the floaters in my eye one evening
when every time I tried to focus they sped away.