Grief as a Thing I Keep Giving Away by Hattie Jean Hayes
Remembering her deathbed
in the living room of all places
still makes me laugh.
It’s not a joke, but
a paper pearl
against my palmmeat,
On impulse I ask
Who's the last person
you watched die?
and frighten the landlord.
Everybody smiles forgiveness,
except the ones who have an answer.
I think about the term baby weight.
It meant something different before.
I lift her hand to paint the nails
and think a corpse feels like a baby,
or a cat. More heavy than cold.
Her speech was supposed to go
quicker than it did. Quicker than
she did. It was gentle
and grotesque. It was
sudden and everlasting.
On the walk to lunch
I recall her toothlessness, her
acquiescence to indignity.
from reverie by calls from a passing
car, I leave her
voice, the last thread
of murmurs, between
33rd and 35th,
on the west side of Madison Avenue.
Hattie Jean Hayes (she/her) is a writer and comedian, originally from Missouri and now living in New York. Her writing has been published in HAD, Hobart, The Daily Drunk, Belletrist Magazine and others. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @queenhattiejean