I can be putting on my socks
loading dishes
washing clothes
and I’m back in that dark house
finding her
in my cell phone’s flashlight
the navajo diamond pattern
of her gray robe
wedged between counters.
After I called her name
and prayed she had fallen asleep.
After shining the light on her bed,
after checking the bottom of the stairs,
after finding my way
between baskets, boxes, books, masks,
past the stack of tapes, DVDs,
her “Viva la Vida” print in a gold frame
my cat painting hanging on a door
next to the pow-wow jingle dress.
After finding the Madonna and a skeleton
dancing on a Christmas tray in her kitchen

where last she sat–

in her tall director’s chair
with her gold handled papercutting scissors,
notebooks, lists
wilted yellow lilies
in a blue glass vase
on the window sill
that looks out onto tall spruces,
sagging branches,
red winter berries spotting blotchy snow–
and poured McDonald’s coffee, two creams,
into her orange ceramic cup,
and her heart stopped
and she fell forward
neck bent
face hidden by her long gray brown hair.

“Please God, NO!”
Every time I see it.

But she would say,
“Oh, Thank God! (who is a woman)
I wanted to go quick!
After dancing at Elk Creek,
After Carmen, champaign and cake.
Quick as a whistle
and stomping my feet
in red cowboy boots.”