They left in the usual way; one
stepping out for a walk or a smoke,

covering that cough, folding the cloth
so only snow-white linen would show.

The steps harder to negotiate.
The tables cluttered with typeface too

small to read. The bills, the drawing up
of wills and all those pills spelling out

which directives to make. Like the tree
planted in the front yard you watched grow

over the slow accumulation
of years, they are gone. Due to lightning

strikes or beetle infestations. We
struggle to recall each shape, the shade

they made, the budding leaves and barren
branches in all that wide open air.

So, this is what it feels like to climb
those stairs, gasping, clasping fragile rails.