for women who only rest when they die

a poem I wrote about my late auntie, who I remember always being in motion, rarely taking time to sit and be still for more than a few minutes. the greatest lesson I’ve learned from observing the way she lived her life is how important it is for women to take off their life and rest [to borrow from nayyirah waheed’s beautiful words]. it could mean the difference between survival and death.

premature women

premature women leave behind fancy tea sets
still in their box, stashed away for special days
they die with $800 in their bank accounts, combined
they look through old photo albums,
and pick the best ones to be displayed at their funeral
they leave no instructions for the care of their children
they abandon preteen daughters before showing them how to handle their first sight of blood
they leave their husbands without a map of the kitchen
they leave their sisters alone to decipher their own dreams
they become ghosts before they could live.

her most persistent feeling was fatigue
fatigue that seeped deep into her bones and seized her nerves
a daily, ever present fatigue
where even a deep sigh could make her head spin
because that was the longest oxygen stayed in her lungs.
so how could she tell at the end,
between fatigue and disease?
it had been lodged in her cells all along.

can you blame me for making a point of exhaling?

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