Undeniable as a toothache,

indelible as a raised scar,

those recollections that haunt

my most grim midnight thoughts

of your last day and night.

When I called 911 despite your barked NO!,

the medics found your vital signs normal,

warned us, due to Covid, against Urgent Care

but to see our own doctor tomorrow.

Which for you never came.

When you couldn’t control your bodily functions,

lost your way coming back from the bathroom,

too heavy for me to guide or support,

and too strong to be physically forced.

Your last rational words: Don’t yell at me. Please.

When I noted your grimacing mouth

and a turning inward that folded you up

like a squeezed concertina

but rejected the truth they portended.

Read my book. Turned off my light. Fell asleep.

And when I woke in the morning,

avoided the sight of you in your chair

as I dressed, combed my hair, made the bed.

Knew without knowing I’d left you

to do your dying alone.

Originally published in Whimsical Poet: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry

Sharon Whitehill is a retired English professor from West Michigan now living in Port Charlotte, Florida. In addition to poems published in various literary magazines, her publications include two scholarly biographies, two memoirs, two poetry chapbooks, and a full collection of poems. Her chapbook, THIS SAD AND TENDER TIME, is due out winter 2024.