For Nancy Kays

For Nancy Kays

 

If you are dying, you do not need to take out the trash,

Or remember where you keep the vacuum cleaner bags.

If you are dying, you do not need to get your car inspected,

Or clean the gutters of your roof.

If you are dying, you need to breathe in, and breathe out,

And squeeze your daughter’s hand.

If you are dying, you need to reassure your family that you are all right.

You may need to remember exactly how you make spaghetti sauce,

And tell it to your son, so he can prepare it for your granddaughter,

Though he already knows.

If you are dying, you need to breathe in, and breathe out,

And squeeze your son’s hand.

If you are dying, you have no need to remember the sun glinting on the snow,

Or the warm heat of a long hike, or exactly what poison ivy looks like.

If you are dying, you need to breathe in, and breathe out,

And squeeze those hands.

And we will squeeze gently back.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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