I sing the girls little songs
while every plant in the house dies.
In group, they say into a microphone:
“Today we have learned coping skills.”
I cannot say “stroke”; I cannot say
“the unstoppable swelling of her brain”
but I can say “died.” Best to avoid
metaphor with the very young, they advise.
Another woman calls her son a star.
Others say “angel” or “gone away,”
like they willingly turned and left,
a just-missed ice cream truck, remnant
of its song, a vivid color after
you’ve closed her eyes.
We did watch her fade. I have to explain
how the body stops working, how a lung
can be like a plastic bag caught in a tree
branch, billowing. I’ve stopped taking
pictures of my surviving children. I take
pictures of the snow, and what the snow covers.