Last Sister

Least and last and now, as
the last illness comes and she
takes to bed, largest. The only one
with lungs still breathing

faintly on this earth. The rest
in their sequence, like birth spaces,
dead, bones striving for equality
reaching dust as if a race and tape

measured them still. A stile
she will have to cross alone
or a door with the handle too high
tiptoeing to reach the windowsill

and see in through the glass
but not out. Until then
she holds them as an hourglass
holds sand and a rose holds scent.

Elizabeth Smither

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