Two hours ago she knocked at my door.
Four hours ago she found her daughter dead in bed.
My husband falls in from the door,
"It's Kate. She says Ciara's dead."
My arm continues ironing;
obviously he is wrong.
I correct him:
"Her mother, you mean.
Kate's mother is dead."
I look up and
a policeman's eyes bring Death into my living room.
Later, I call my daughter.
Just to check.
Everything all right, darling?
Yes, just packing to come home.
Can't fit all the shopping in the case, what to do?
Can't fit it all in;
can't take it all in.
My husband insists I call again.
Tell her. In case.
In case of what?
I don't know.
But I was supposed to meet her and didn't, Mummy.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
Rhyme, not reason.
I'd checked in on her.
I'd called her back.
I could turn back time.
There's no 'if' in Death.
No do-overs, no make-ups,
no second chances.
Our recriminations make
I cancel work.
Sure, of course, no worries.
not-watching some missable movie,
"Sincere condolences to you and your family."
Sensibility in stock phrases.
Her father won't release the body
until they read how he fought for a proper diagnosis.
"I didn't expect the treatment to kill her."
And then he wants her back.
Old people are taken from the hospital.
She must be taken from her home.
Her family must let her go.
Children don't pre-decease parents;
it's, like, a law, or something.
Laws get broken, honey.
My husband can't relax until our daughter gets home.
I try to reassure him:
Death is a fact of life. We know that, right?
I come home and he's not there.
No note, his phone left on the table.
He's been out of work since February.
shrink-wraps my world
tightens my chest
blurs my vision.
Still too real.