We always take the furthest spot, eager to walk
the flat expanse of Sloan Kettering’s parking lot.
On occasion he smiles in these first days
swollen with hope,
late June sunshine on his shoulders,
the Dogwood just in bloom
browning white petals kiss pavement.

Hot, he waves a limp wrist
motioning me to park nearer.
The tree is laden with green leaves now,
people walk, wipe sweat from eyes.
His clammy hand clenches the bag he still carries
relentless Jersey humidity further stifles his breath .

It spread
hip, kidney, bone.
The cane hobbles him from car to front door
where a lobby is filled with mums and pumpkins.
His wool cap fits loosely now, his face still beautiful-
chiseled, sunken. His sweater
slips off his back, a skinny boy
in daddy’s clothes.

The wheels on his chair thin, snow deep.
His final infusion –
a mere crucifixion, we
are met by his
Simon of Cyrene, sipping
coffee, laughing with security as
I recline the seat and
writhe him out of our car
like burnt bread, fallen too deep
into the toaster.

(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.

Published in Vita Brevis and Blue Lake Review

Short-Listed Fish Poetry Prize

Last First Night

I pose we smoke
(the pleasure we can
still partake in)
7 becomes 8
8 becomes 9
and you are still
on the other side
of the locked door,
ursus in hibernation.

So I mark time
mull red wine
with cardamom
and lemon peel
pour the spirit
into porcelain
teacups and pass
to my teenage children
late popsicles
on a summer night.

At 11:55 you appear
your once strong body
fading with the year
you hobble a few steps
in striped pajamas
that Jew from Treblinka
watching Anderson Cooper.

I graze your shoulder,
strands of
your silver hair-
too weak to inhale
you peck me instead
with chapped lips as
your last year begins.

(C) 2019 Stacey Z. Lawrence, All Rights Reserved.