A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2008, vol 4 no 1

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Adelaide Shaw



My mother in a hospital bed, tubes in her nose.  Machines beep and ping.  How can I ask, “How are you?” I take her hand, bend over and kiss her cheek.  “Hi, Mom.”  A slight nod and a troubled smile.

“Have you eaten anything?”She lifts her left arm to indicate an intravenous feeding tube.

“Not much taste in that, is there?”

An easier smile this time. We talk, or rather…I talk, she listens.  The effort to speak is tiring for her.  Two, three days.  The same scenario.  Same conversation.  Love and kisses from the children and my husband 3,000 miles away.  In the afternoon my father, sister, aunt and I discuss the next step.

“Too soon.  It’ll scare her.”

“Maybe it’ll be a comfort.”

“It doesn’t mean…”

“No, but we should do it.”

Last Rites –
beyond our circle of prayers
Santa Ana winds