Today marks eight years since the day my sister Peggy died of breast cancer. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her in some small way, sometimes in a big way. Last year I wrote this poem to submit to a publication that ended up deciding not to publish it. Yesterday, as I was pondering what poem I might submit to a different publication, I came across it in my Miscellaneous Submissions folder. Then I realized what day it was and decided it had lingered unpublished long enough.
All I Have Left A smoke-stained antique China hutch with beveled mirrors. A dainty teacup and saucer decorated with yellow Narcissus and a gold rim. A greenish-white ceramic figurine of Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus, with her name etched on the bottom. A garnet ring, fashioned like a flower with round petals, that said Made in Germany inside the band until I had it resized from a 10 1/4 so it wouldn't fall off my finger into the bathroom garbage again. I guess there are some photos too, in the albums our Dad gave me before he died. And the echo of her lovely voice reassuring me, "It's okay Sweetie," when I cried from the pain of getting my ears pierced, when I faced the trauma of rape and a teen-age pregnancy, when I spit Scope mouthwash down the front of my wedding dress, whenever I needed reassuring. That's all I have left. Except regrets of the time I let pass without calling or visiting or even writing a letter, thinking we had all the time in the world. Not realizing all the time in the world is not enough. And that when she breathed her last in a quiet, sterile hospital room, I’d never hear her call me Sweetie again.