This winter when cancer began its ugliness I grieved with you each day for three months and found you in your private nook of the medicinal palace for New England Women and never once forgot how long it took.

I read to you from The New Yorker, ate suppers you wouldn't eat, fussed with your flowers, joked with your nurses, as if I

were the balm among lepers, as if I could undo a life in hours if I never said goodbye.

But you turned old, all your fifty-eight years sliding like masks from your skull; and at the end

I packed your nightgowns in suitcases, paid the nurses, came riding home as if I'd been told I could pretend people live in places.

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