We Walk Toward Day Nine or Not

I am a death doula to my mother and I am telling her it will be okay to go. Telling her my shoes are on, laces tied, hair combed out of my face. I am a death doula to my mother and in a way I think I have always wanted this, her hand. She hasn’t died yet, hasn’t bloomed yet either. But a bud in this pink light, in this warm April. She tells me it’s been eight days, and I know eight days is miraculous. My mother, my miracle. Who guides who. Can I get you anything, I offer. Support and love, she returns. Me, the field guide who walks ahead. I would show her to any future, but from some distance. Please, some distance. A little more distance, I’m afraid. My miracle is good to me, held by care, by me, by spring. We walk toward day nine or not.

—Makshya Tolbert (Ran Off With the Star Bassoon)