I told my mother there was nothing
to forgive her for. I went on speaking
as if she could hear me. Every
night I read about dying.
Every day she edged forward.

Ate nothing. Drank nothing.
I forgave her beauty beside
my awkwardness, my dull hair.
Her belief, my unbelief.
I forgave the rose pillow

I bought her before I knew
she was past receiving
its lovely depths and scarlet
surfaces. I read about changing
skin color, cooling flesh, gaps

between shallow breaths.
I forgave the Spanish dictionary
in the drawer by her bed,
the duplicate photos I dropped
to her wastebasket. Which of you

loves death? Who welcomes
night and loss? Who can condone
my pride and stupidity? Someone
lives in my mother’s room now,
a fact I cannot forgive.