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108 Days

It will be 90 days before we have autopsy results. I will write daily, even if it is two lines, for every bead on a mala. 108 days:


It's a long time since I went to mother's for a cup
of steaming apple spice tea beside a plate
of chocolate biscottis. She kept one rolled cigarette
on the bookshelf, in case I had time to sit
on her front porch steps while the sun set
behind us. I wish I can say
we searched for the moon,
confessed what we thought were names
of constellations, but she was a comet -
her tail always pointing away from me
egnited by the inferno of our great star,
full of history, burning beyond language.


My parents' wedding rings are a joke
now; the gold is enough to make a crown
for the sick inside of a tooth,
a wound barely concealing nerve.

I keep them
in a broken music box
that only plays
when taken apart.


What I wanted to say, Mom, is that I don't know why you gave me these rings. I can't even legally marry anyone in this state. Even if I move, it's be another decade probably. Dad said you threw the first ring he ever gave you off a bridge when you left him for awhile. The ones I have now are from K-Mart, fake diamond, cheap gold band, supposed to symbolize a renewal of your vows.

He cheated on you more than once. I don't know why he told me. Maybe because I didn't live here when it happened or it happened long enough ago that he feels he wouldn't be judged. He still can't find a way to support my brother. I think he's scared he'll turn out just like him - distant, unable to know his own children.

It's almost two in the morning and I've lit some of the candles you left behind. I've been sick for three days. Every day I want to call you. I can't believe I can't call you anymore. People say I can talk to you. I do. I'm tired of hearing you're in a better place. I wish people would say nothing instead of that. How do they know anyway, where you are?

I keep thinking of apples. A child is an apple attached to parent by stem and seed, yet nourished by water and sunlight, outside resources necessary for survival. When you died I felt like someone cut the stem that connected me to the tree of you and as I fell to the ground I saw an axe cut into the heart and core of you until you were a stump - nonmoving, nongrowing, nonbreathing, no amount of sunlight or rain with the capacity to raise you.

I have stories. I have stories.

People do not rise from the grave, only the tip of a pen.


Mother, where have you gone?
I hold in my palms what you kept
at the bottom of your purse:
cross with a poem wrapped around it,
heavy piece of tiger's eye, malachite
in a silver spiral cage, an angel
encased in quartz.

Further down a ziplock baggie
with your tooth in it,
sealant, it kept falling out.
You left a blank check,
grandma's photo, childrens' birth
stones, a mirror, one coupon for tin foil,
gold necklaces stashed in secret pockets,
cut open, sewn shut.


I cried for you today, like a child. I wanted everyone else's mother to be mine. I'm listening more intently now, to the stories of everyone. I threw away crackers you left and hugged the stuffed animal giraffe
whose limbs you had to sew back on. I'll turn the shed into an altar,
wake up, meditate, calm down, move forward. I hope I dream of you
tonight. Let's meet at Jone's Beach in 1987. Or the park where we fed deer.
I always was a deer. You knew. You have me the antique canteen
shaped as a doe beside a river even though I once broke the antlers off,
or did I? Tell me in my dream. The spirit, energy, communicates
in many realms. It does not leave the body, rather expands until the body
can no longer contain it, then dissolves into every one, everything
shaking the body off like snow boots at the threshold.


I want the kettle steaming,
another dinner, more stories.

I am afraid my birthmarks will fade
as I grow older.


We brought you light and dark purple gladiolas.
Why do the colors of your love
remind me of a bruise? A plum left on the counter,
caving in on itself, nothing left but sugar and slime.


I can't sleep now like I used to. I see your face. Someone told me to meditate on lavender fields.
Someone else said to sit with the image: to think of your face and the vomit, the fluids
from emptied bowels still wet on the sheets the next day when we came to empty your
apartment. Chris threw the blankets in a pile by the bookshelf and what was left of you
accidently smeared the white wall. A slip of paper was left from the medical examiner.
I held my nephew while taking your clothes off of hangers, back into boxes and suitcases.
I've moved your things four times in the past year. This time everything was new:
dishes, silverware, cutting boards, all matching red and silver. It all smelled like plastic.
You just bought a box of Good Earth spiced tea. When I smell it now, I want to throw up.


A part of me is missing, like waking up from a dream you felt you had no control over, you could only watch what was happening to you and try to wake yourself up.

Someone sent a package today with patchouli mist, incense, sage wands, a vile of water from the Jordan River where Jesus fished and bathed, earrings, a chocolate bar, and dog treats. I didn't know who sent it. The handwriting looked just like yours. I wasn't reading carefully enough. It wasn't signed with a name, only, 'Love Always.' I thought you had sent me a package and wondered how you got to the Jordan River before you died. I thought it was from you. I cried on my knees on the kitchen floor. I called "Mom" over and over until I lost my voice. Both grandmothers and mother dead with a year and a half of each other, all on the 28th of a month, the year before my 28th birthday.


I thought my mother was dead before I found her body. I sent her three text messages and her lack of response was reason enough to believe she was not just napping. Her new apartment was right down the street from my house. I timed it while taking one truckload after the next to her doorstep weeks before. In 52 years she had never wanted to live alone. The only time she had was right after my parents divorced and she spent most of her time reading medical dictionaries and mixing prescriptions to create symptoms that would land her in the hospital. She wanted my dad back. She wanted him to nurture her as she had all three of his children and him. We all knew. My father never showed up to hold her hand. He had already moved in with another woman. Her heart was heavy and she spent the next seven years transforming her body to match the weight of it. It could have just been her heart, heavy this time with happiness and purpose since she was a new grandmother. She didn't like visiting the twins in the hospital with me. She said I didn't like to share. I didn't. I held Makayla and sang her Vashti Bunyan folk songs from the sixties about diamond days and blades of grass. When I held Sylas I recited poems and mantras about men being gentle. I wanted to their eyes from the violence of the world they were born into, save them from inevitable lapses of anger deeply rooted in the eyes of their father and grandfather. My mother only wanted to kiss them and let them know she was their Grammy. I had a lesson plan; she had soft hands from raising children.


jap21's picture

Hi Mei Li

I just came back from a vey busy half year. I sunk in Wold Pulse to see what my friends were up to, and I am shocked to find you here, within this crude reality.

My dear friend, I cannot tell you about my feelings. I will just tell you that I am feeling you. I will also pray for you, with a prayer that changed my life when I lost my son, a year and three months ago:

Heavenly Father, please grant Mei Li peace, beyond all and any understanding. Thank you my dear Father.

Give yourself permission to feel all these feelings, because it is alright to mourn such a loved one.

Alll my love is with you, my dear Mei Li.

In deepest friendship,


Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

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