An Education in Letters

by Jane Lin

Last night I told Rosemary
what she'd wanted to know—mimed the bear
tasting honey from a hive.
She'd said to ask Sevanna

who had described only A to me, her arms
snapping shut like an alligator snout.
But B, rubbery, buttery, bendable B
bounced against Rosemary's dying body.

Reversal from strawberry ice cream,
from walking the two steps
from potty seat to bed, making me promise
to let her pay for the round wood

toothpicks and Chapstick so good
for hospital lips. My hand clumsy on hers.
My words too, like epistles to the dead. And so
the grieving begins for the 97-year-old

kindergarten teacher, widowed
and childless. In the morning,
a sterile room. Standing
I wait for a nurse to acknowledge me,

tell me what I already see
because I can't leave like a nobody
no one notified. No letter. Nothing.

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