Loss in Small Doses

You adored me with the dearness
of grandparents. I grew up dog-eared
between your daughters, passed from lap to lap
as they tickled my ribs, their trial run
for motherhood.
I aged fast, shedding baby fat cuteness.
Even when I began to emit a whiff of rot,
an apple forgotten in the crisper drawer,
you did not cast me out.
Every Sunday you took me to church
until my lips refused to mouth the hymns,
until my head would not bow over a meal
and my knees would not fold before a bed.
You loved me though I was lost,
welcomed me into your home a decade later
when I stopped by and tried to hide my shock
at how you’d changed the place.
You showed me photos of grandchildren
I’d never met, walked me through renovated rooms
gutted of my childhood. The house was a mouth,
and I the extracted tooth.
My cheeks ached with a smile’s burden
as we said goodbye. I cried driving home.
In five years’ time, you would both be gone.
I wept then too, the loss less acute,
my grieving already half done.

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, SOFTBLOW, Calamus Journal, and numerous other print and online journals. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.