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My heart is heavy as a claw.
I’ve gone home.
Visited grandparents in their 90s,
who, when they say goodbye,
mean forever. Like their vow.
Sixty-six years together.
She says he helps her catch her breath
in the middle of the night when she wakes
and fears the fist of death
has been shoved down her throat.
She isn’t sure how he’ll live without her.
He is used to saving her.

And my aunt is frail.
My uncle says he’s the muscle behind her will
to live, says his shoulders sag
beneath the weight of her dependency.
Their humanity catches in his throat.
He doesn’t know how she’ll survive
if he dies before her.
His eyes in anguish as they see
loss scratching at the door
of his last days,
he hopes, and doesn’t hope,
she goes first.


Julie L. Moore is the author of Slipping Out of Bloom, forthcoming from WordTech Editions, and the chapbook, Election Day (Finishing Line Press). Winner of the 2008 Janet B. McCabe Prize from RUMINATE magazine, Moore has also contributed poetry to Alaska Quarterly Review, Apple Valley Review, Atlanta Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Cimarron Review, Flint Hills Review, The MacGuffin, Sou’Wester, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among many others. Moore lives in Ohio, where she directs the Writing Center at Cedarville University. Her website is

© 2009, Julie L. Moore

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