Questions and Answers
by Jane Lin
The public relations officer from the charity chanted
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in a language I didn't understand. There were gestures
and clapping. I stood at the head of the hospital bed,
brushed a hand over my mother's hair because a woman
had done this to me in my grief a month before at an A&W
on a hillside in Vermont
and I had found it comforting.
My mother twitched her head in irritation, too weak
to move her arms, to speak. I knew then I was nobody.
Only the friend in her blue uniform could rouse a response
near the end, some rallied squeeze of the hand.
We waited once, at home, the others preparing the car, the bags,
for the ER. She asked me if I had any questions. I said no.
Still no, the possible answers irrelevant.
Did you love him?
the waxed nubbly skin, orange-tinged flesh,
rough seeds in their slipcases
—shocked when she considered he might miss her
of our binds.