- Our Son
He stopped sleeping to watch you breathe for three nights before you died, dripped morphine into your mouth every two hours. He washed your dead body, cleaned the mess of bile that leaked from your mouth when he and the nurse turned your body to wash your back. He kept watch, he used lists to keep track, who he most feared losing next, who he loved most, his words flew, broken pearls, he flew so far a red potholder in the glass door of a kitchen shop was a sign, a bride and groom were falling from a roof, a body outlined in chalk beside the ruins, lists didn’t work, there was a courtyard, there were bars on the window, he was in a ward of a building so old there were sarcophagi in the basement. When I reached him I climbed into the bed and held him, the baby, the boy, the man, the crazy American mother who made the Romans whisper in the hall. [End Page 150]
Grace Mattern has received a poetry fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and was the first recipient of the Jean Pedrick Memorial Fellowship for a writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center, where she completed a manuscript titled “The Truth About Death.” Her chapbook, Fever of Unknown Origin, was published by Oyster River Press. She is the executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.