When D. said he’d had the impulse, thought it kindness to cover her face in the goose down pillow, D. in all his clinical remove, wanting to stop her suffering, and she, no longer able to swallow, her mouth stuck open, a gurgling in the back of her throat, her voice taken and replaced by a deep feathered silence, I felt the jump of pulse in her neck, the kick as it thumped her hardening arteries, the burst vessel bluing her temple, and knew now—after knowing all these months she was dying— I wasn’t ready, though I’d thought I was rational as D. knowing the inevitable which crests over all of us, was cresting now over her, not ready and panicked in the undertow, a desperate need to fight the great muscled ocean, my brother raising the pillow, the curls along his thick arms graying, the great roiled undertow which pins us and blindly takes all our unfathomable loves, our tender unmet needs and suffers them to an abiding silence, my mother, her hands gripping the sheets where they’d been folded, a grip so muted now, her whole bodily attention focused on continuance, on beat and breathe, though I held her and cried, as they told me to, and said, “You can go. It’s okay, you can go.”

NADINE SABRA MEYER’s first book of poems, The Anatomy Theater, won the National Poetry Series and was published by HarperCollins in 2006. Her poems have won the New Letters Prize for Poetry, the 2011 Meridian Editor’s Prize, and a Pushcart Prize. New poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Literary Imagination, Boulevard, Nimrod, North American Review, The Missouri Review and Blackbird. She is an assistant professor at Gettysburg College.