Jennifer Poteet, “Shell”

orange line


I had prepared for this to happen,
but not tonight. Not like this.
Two men came to the apartment
in dark suits.
One pushed the gurney, the other, gloved,
unzipped a black shroud.
We didn’t speak. I left them alone to work.

My mother had climbed over
the raised rails of her hospice bed,
and fell to the floor.
Her aide heard the thud, dialed 911, called me.
I was blocked from the bedroom
as EMTs compressed my mother’s chest,
but she was already gone.

There was a bump as the men hoisted their cargo
past the room divider, out the front door.
The lower plate of my mother’s dentures
was left behind on the carpet, a half-smile.
I reached down.
Still warm. I raised the pink horseshoe
and cupped it, as I would a seashell, to my ear.


Jennifer Poteet lives in Montclair, NJ, and works in Manhattan as a fundraiser for public television. Work has been published recently in Whale Road Review and The Cortland Review. Jennifer’s first chapbook, Sleepwalking Home, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2017.


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