Hearing the Evening Sky

or Her Jaw Drops

The crater eyes of a giant orange moon hovers over the foothills, peering into her hospice room. My mother sits up, clear-eyed, smiling. Her hand reaches forward. I clasp her cool hand, her diamond ring presses into my fingers. In a rough deep voice and jagged breath, she speaks: I just wanted to tell you, I have always—her words fall into me. My gut lifts, buoyant. The squeaking cart in the corridor echoes life. My sister stands up, “Me too? Did you mean me too?” My mother sinks. The bleach smell no longer stings. I speak through my mind, repeating the mantra she remembered learning during the war when hiding in the wardrobe and Daddy spoke Japanese to the Japanese soldiers on the other side. Her breath jolts with a snort, ruffling the sheets. She rasps. My sister asks a nurse to clean Mommy’s throat and lungs out from unpleasant sounds, then leaves. It’s just you and me now, Mommy. Thanks for letting me stay with you. Her jaw drops. Outside, the moon has grown small, but very bright.