My Mother dies slowly, like kudzu, a rose giving itself back to the winds, petal by tattered petal. My Mother dies begrudgingly while summer storms rampage, hurling hailstones down upon the garden’s young snowpeas, ragging the tender pods, ripping, uprooting huge thick oaks. My Mother dies like a carriage candle in the midnight rain. The guttering flame dances, spits, sputters, leaping higher, falling away. She lays time by, misplaces calendars and clocks. She withdraws, wraps silence about her crooking shoulders, laughs at empty air, giggling like a mischievous child at an errant memory. Her unfocused eyes scream mute questions aloud, questions I cannot field. Why must I keep fighting now? If you think I’m enjoying this, you’re crazier than I ever knew. Which one are you? Sometimes the sleeping Amazon queen of yesterday wakes. Her head rears, a cobra’s hood, aching to strike. Words froth upon her straining lips. She shakes her head, pees like a baby everywhere, in her wheelchair, upon the living room carpet, I strip the bed, roll her to and fro like a lost top, smoothing the clean sheets underneath her, then bathe her, rub baby oil on her swollen legs. I hate to see the sun come up again somedays, she says. Don’t worry; everything will be all right . . . while she ruffles my hair with unsteady fingers. You go to bed early and be ready come getting-up time. My Mother dies like light, as she has ever lived, slow, full, to the hilt, hard, hard, hard.