The Day My Parents Accept an Offer on My Childhood Home
is the day after they put it on the market.
The realtors’ pictures didn’t
look like home. They kept
nothing we had in that house where
my grandfather stayed,
where before he fell asleep
each night each of us made sure
he didn’t need anything,
then turned off the light.
But days later, looking again, I see
they did keep one thing of ours
in that bedroom: the comforter
my mother picked out when my grandfather
came to stay for good. Gray,
thin stripes. The realtors
must have liked it for its perfect
neutrality, because to them it didn’t say
here someone lay
while neurons in his brain mangled.
They didn’t see that brain under the machine.
I decide the headboard
must be fake, the plant
sitting on the radiator, silk.
Pillows, throw blankets all fake, then
the comforter, the stripes.
It stays there in the spot
where it warmed my grandfather, where he turned
under those same beams, above those floorboards
and outside in the doorway
in the corner of that photograph I listened to him breathe.
Bess Cooley won the 2017 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize, and her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, The Journal, and Verse Daily, among other journals. A graduate of Knox College and the MFA program at Purdue University, she lives in Knoxville and teaches at the University of Tennessee, where she is also managing editor of online content for Grist and director of the Young Writers Institute.