my mother and I played canasta.
Neither of us had paying jobs.
She had an old hand-cranked
card shuffler for the two decks.
We unfurled fans of 15 cards,
sorted by rank and suit,
and the dealer turned a card for the pile.
We would each meld our best runs,
took and discarded and laid cards down
in neat columns until eventually
one of us won—usually her.
Late in August she took leave for Indiana
to nurse her dying sister, my Aunt Io.
I like to think she recalled those hours
around the card table as more than duty
toward an irksome younger daughter,
but with something like grace or even joy,
as she traced the breath of my aunt
to its last solemn sigh. The hearse departed,
and, her act of mercy passed, my mother boarded
the first train she could book for home.
Image courtesy keattikorn, freedigitalimages.net