brittle bones make it impossible to resuscitate her,
for the pressure of the CPR
would make her chest cave in.
her smile is weak, but once it shined,
shined like the bright and boiling
(it came down and graced her skin with freckles,
a little girl with bones so hollow
that she believed she could fly.)
as a child, she used to trade in eggs
for chocolate bars;
not hershey's, but still,
the sweetness was the same.
(a sweetness her dehydrated mouth
can no longer process
for the bitterness of years against her tongue)
she went to school and her hair was so red,
her sweaters so green and bright,
that the other children
called her "christmas tree."
she would say she didn't mind it,
for at least christmas trees made children smile.
(they make her smile too)
she never knew much about history,
but when the black blizzards came in and they had to move,
westwestwest to the land of milk and honey,
she knew her family would make some
"history" of their own.
("it's a long, tired story," she told me.
but still i listened, and intently.)
made it west and lived on ten-cent jobs
and rotten apples and yams
and peaches -- freshly pickled.
playing cards yet living in
refugee camps and shanytowns.
("they called them Hoovervilles, back then.")
married young and had three kids,
but was left alone in the end.
in the end, when her lack of calcium
makes for bones easy to break,
and the cigarettes making it hard to breathe.
DNR, the paper says,
but i hear myself scream different.
i hear don't leave, don't leave me here,
don't leave me with this cold weather
and these cold people,
don't leave me with my parents,
for they don't tell me stories as brilliantly as you.
tell me of Hoovervilles and christmas trees,
tell me of the forties and of Roosevelt,
tell me of your childhood summers
trading eggs for candy.
hold me against your brittle chest so hard
that your lungs fall in on themselves.
("life was better," she said,
"when i spent it actually living.")