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Weighing In
By Mary Jo Balistreri

He hands me the cup
of his sorrow.

I take a sip,
pass it back.
Bitter as blood
this drink we share,
but I will honor my oath.
When the cup is empty,
I walk out
into the fog
that separates me
even from myself.

toward the sea's briny scent
I sit on the dock
Tomorrow he dies‐
with my help.
A radical knot of cells
with death,
his brain cancer.

Why a crime to end life
with dignity‐still able
to make decisions,
pick burrs from his dog's fur,
enjoy the pop of fresh berries
in his mouth, to say
when he's ready a grateful goodbye to life?
Why a crime to share last moments with the friend
who has loved you?

I squeeze death against my heart,
feel the loneliness…
listen at last
to the unbroken sound of waves.


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