Looking Back, September

This time of year
the pooled light spilling.

We were afraid.

A world of
turning to feed and be fed.
Of saline hung in bags.

Knowing now
what I know, I would never.

That last morning
she did not move from the bed.
At which time we carried
her to the hospital.

All that goes into preparing
is not enough.

She died while receiving
an X-ray. Which later gave
information. Which showed
a tumor pressing on her lungs.

What passes for knowledge.

I still remember
the body laid upstairs and
entertaining a stranger in the kitchen.
We put all that aside for.

The fact is, I have shredded
the records, erased all evidence
of her passing.

Do not claim you are sorry.

I kept returning to the body
to see if breath
was lifting the ribcage, to find out
if some mistake had been made.

By which I mean

the sun and how it
broke into white slats
on the floor.

J.L. Conrad is the author of the full-length collection A Cartography of Birds (Louisiana State University Press) and the forthcoming chapbook NOT IF BUT WHEN, which won Salt Hill's third annual Dead Lake Chapbook Competition and will be published in 2016. Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Jellyfish, Salamander, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Phantom Limb, H_NGM_N, The Laurel Review and Forklift, Ohio, among others. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where she is working toward her PhD in literary studies.