by  J. MacBain-Stephens

She lays in the hospital bed
a tube in her chest
her blond hair
not the usual shine
her glasses on the side table
she cannot laugh
or cry
at her mother’s death
three days ago
or the tube inserted in her chest
will become displaced
and it’s draining fluid
I show up
to show my love
like this one
and that one is already gone
and the next minute
hasn’t happened yet
and we say
yeah, yeah
and could you
and try to speak
and breathe
but not laugh
don’t you dare laugh
because life is serious
and precious
and if you laugh
you might die
I’m the one who told you
about that article I read
about Lord Yama walking the earth
looking to take the sick away with him
to the underworld
and the cold weather
the dark winter days
the death of a mother
and she cannot cry
cannot laugh
sucks air
down a tube

J. MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she likes to rock climb. She is the author of four full-length poetry collections and 12 chapbooks. Her chapbook Teeth Have a Hardness Scale of 5 is forthcoming from Sputnik and Fizzle Press. Recent work is in or forthcoming from The Pinch, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, Zone 3, and Grist. She also hosts an indie reading series sponsored by Iowa City Poetry called “Today You Are Perfect.” K. Nizar, a multi-disciplinary artist from Kerala’s Kozhikode, who began his career on movie-sets doing art works before becoming a visualization artist for a leading newspaper in Kerala.

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