Julie Dickson

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Already Gone

Stark room, ventilator respiration robotic
in rhythm, nothing like breathing.
Tubes exiting from under the sheet
and hospital gown hint at a myriad
of machines moving blood from her heart,
toxins from kidneys, no human sounds
emitted – this is not my mother,
not the one who coded in an ambulance,
when paramedics warned, “We’re losing her”,
she whispered inaudibly, no you’re not.

This is not the grandmother who smiled
and laughed while her grandson piled
twenty stuffed penguins onto her lap,
or baked chewy molasses cookies
with her granddaughter standing on a chair
begging to lick the mixing bowl;
not the mother, who, for fifty-six years
presented a perfectly roasted turkey
to her family each Thanksgiving.

She is not even the mother I spoke to
this morning, during her last lucid window,
one precious opportunity, final glimpse
of she who taught me to love books.
My mother is already gone, her actions
reduced to memories in photo albums.
Voices fades into murmurs around her bed,
like a gentle hum of bumble bees
around their beloved dying matriarch.


Julie A. Dickson is a poet whose work comprises image, experience and environment; her work appears in Poetry Quarterly, The Harvard Press, Ekphrastic Review, Blue Heron Review and others. Dickson was nominated for a Push Cart Prize in 2018 for her poem, The Sky Must Remember. Her latest books are A World without Ivory (2018 Sunrise Press), Untumbled Gem (2018 Goldfish Press) and Bullied into Silence (2016 Piscataqua Press).