Vital Signs

I talk to my mother-in-law more
than my own mother, & maybe
that’s because we’re friends, or maybe
because I think I might not know
how to die without my wife nearby.

I bring my mother-in-law tea at the
nursing home. The tea is weak; I
complain for her because she’s too
polite to protest. I lift the porcelain
to her lips on Sundays after church.

My wife is busy. I have picked out
a shared burial plot for our parents:
small churchyard cemetery & tree-root.
I’ve watched both mothers, both fathers
sign D.N.R. on hospital paperwork.

I take my mother-in-law out to vote
in a wheelchair. She is a tiny, trembling
grace, working out the knots in the system.
We read each other bedtime stories
in the morning because she falls asleep

too early, breath loud & sour, while I
wait for room service and a put-upon
hospice worker. The worker takes my
mother-in-law’s pulse, sometimes gives
it back.

Remi Recchia is a trans poet and essayist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a Ph.D. student in English-Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Cimarron Review. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Remi’s work has appeared or will soon appear in Columbia Online Journal, Harpur Palate, and Juked, among others. He holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University. TWITTER & INSTAGRAM