Canidae --- Guest Post by Kellie Scott-Reed

Had I noticed

the dark gray of the heavily trafficked floor

as I stepped off the elevator?

Winter inside,

winter out.

I had left work and headed straight to the hospital.

He was waiting for me.

I remember his voice choking as he said,

“Yeah, yeah…” when I tried to console him

over the phone.

You have been gone for about an hour,

they were letting the family say their goodbyes.

They waited for the granddaughters to arrive.

They waited for me.

I didn’t stop very far into that doorway.

I skulked around the edges.

That tiny crumb of panic in my condolences.

I remember that my son did this after his baby brother was born.

He stopped dead coming into the hospital room

and had to be ushered in with a

stiff hand

by his grandmother.

Tears hanging on the sills of his eyes.

So terrified to disrupt the order,

To hear the cries and not understand why.

Terrified to feel too deeply.

Trying to disappear like a fox and a den.

Eyes gleaming and frightened and selfish.

A different sort of birth now,

but a similar terror.

I could see your shell on the bed.

You were gone into the ether.

Absorbed was your last breath,

Into the lungs of your children

as they stepped all over each other

recounting your last minutes on earth,

overly detailed as your children tend to be when telling a story.

No one quite had the timeline right

Even though only moments had passed.

It was fortunate no one was paying attention to the other

so they all kept their truth.

I drifted,

unable to hold my attention still.

I inverted my eyes

checked my phone.

A comically huge clock hung on the wall,

showing me time left; times up.

More stories about you,

some laughter.

There is something so funny about someone who thinks

it isn’t.

The ritual of looking back at where you once were

took half an hour.

Finally we hoisted our purses and wrapped our necks with scarves.

Like yesterday, like tomorrow.

I took a deep breath, relieved to be standing

So close to the door.

Outside the snow fell hard.

Our conversation turned blessedly back to the weather

as it always does in the place you were born

We have to drive home in it.

We have to go on living and thinking and doing.

We have children to raise and deadlines to meet.

And I have a cold den in my heart to return to,

before it’s too late.

Kellie Scott-Reed is a Reluctant Yogi, Assistant Editor in Chief- Roi Faineant Press, blasphemer and heretic, a bit of a witch. You can find her on Twitter @KellieScottReed.