Her face answered to touch,
weak electricity across a failing circuit.
Wires in different directions,
a twitch that threatened to undo
the last thread of logic
in the weaving of muscle and nerve.

Her skin loose on her skull, luminous tissue,
milk made to shine,
the inside of an oyster shell.
Her eyes were shut, concealing the grains
of dissolving pearls.

She guided any held hand to her mouth,
sucked as if thumbs were chocolate.

Now she is gone.
Gone where – no longer curled in a vinyl chair.
Gone how –

All I have of her is the way she
chewed studiously at nothing.
Her half-sensible gargle,
rising from her throat like bubbles.
All else is secondary, others’ memories.

This thing, this creeping demolition,
the gradual eviction of focus from her gaze,
the worms that left
a hollowed-out woman,
now a grim facade,

It stole her from her, from those who knew
and loved her. I learned to love her
in a vacuum, a totem,
an unresponsive object of devotion.

She laughed at the clothesline
that injured her daughter,
Lurked behind doors
to catch an overgrown son,
Loved her husband less that she was loved,
Worked in a golf club kitchen.