I can still smell my grandmother’s perfume
on one of the sweaters that I kept.
Fourteen years later and I remember
lying on your bed in the mornings
while you drank coffee and juice
and smoked your morning cigarette.
You found the streak in the back of my hair,
a golden shimmer in a sea of brown
that no one else had noticed.
I can find it when the angle is right,
and I feel like a little girl again.
Sometimes I want to pick up the phone,
to call you just to hear your voice
respond to my question:
“What’s new, Tia?”
“New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico.”
“And don’t forget New Haven.”
We sat together in the hospital room.
I held your hand as the doctor explained.
I understood your reasons.
Even as I wanted you to hold on,
you knew that the time for healing had passed.
You lay in your bed back home,
and asked me to get you a pound
of chocolate-covered marshmallows,
of fresh bing cherries, and a carton of cigarettes.
“I’ve done everything I ever wanted to do.”
You said those words that echo in my core.
I can still smell my grandmother’s perfume,
reminding me that life is not about regrets.