Surely our parents give birth to us twice,
the second time when they die.
—Anaïs Nin

My second birth comes parceled out
in two halves. First, my father.
His death reaches me
on an early March morning.
A phone call. His suffering finished,
done. What to do
but partly start over
with only half the parents
I’ve had my whole life?
Try to begin anew
with the still-living one.

Once seven more years go by,
I sit beside my mother’s self
made wooden by Alzheimer’s.
I hear her last breath’s ragged intake,
its soughed release.
In November cold, the second half
of my second birth is done.
Me, fully-delivered once more.

In this afterward world
I stand alone. Too new, too raw
even to fill my lungs
and let loose
a first cry.