though I didn’t see it then,
muddled in grief and regret,
unable to recognize anything
but the gone-ness of her.
And it took time—far too long,
it seemed—to absorb the here-ness
of her, still so present if I could
let my mind to drift her way
without allowing the cloud
of sorrow to automatically
I gradually learned to hear
her voice as though she’d just
called to arrange dinner out
and a trip to the bookstore after,
her voice trailing into my ear:
Mexican? Japanese? What
are you hungry for? Maybe
the Indian place on Broadway?
Then I could summon
seasoned joy, recall conversations
that seemed ordinary at the time,
not acknowledging, despite
the diagnosis, that there would
be a finite number, an end date.
And as I type now, I hear
her dropping in:
What end date? You think
this is over?
And there’s her wicked good
laugh echoing through the ether,
her presence eliciting a chuckle,
as she always has.
(for Georgann Turner, March 1, 1951–Aug. 17, 2021)