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We were all there at the time,
All three of us. For days now
She’d been floating. Not one word.
You could hear though, by the breathing,
She was fighting. This one was tough.
But she was still in charge

She never believed in loss
Of clarity. That’s nonsense.
Each evening when her sister came
Forgetting the one spot where
She stowed her sherry, she scolded her:
But Peg, I showed you yesterday,
And the day before, and the day before.

She refused that to think that people
Who lose their memory
Cannot remember things.

That stubbornness walked with her
Almost a hundred years.

On the court when you thundered down an ace
She’d nod, and cross to the other side.
She ran down almost everything you fired at her
And placed it again, and again, until you cracked.

That night — you could hear it in her breathing —
She was beginning to admit
For the first time, All right, All right,
Looks like you might outlast me.

As the dialogue with whomever
Began to change its tone
We made a circle, six arms
Around our mother, and we listened.
The quarrel intensified, then a sudden
Sharp intake, a grunt of surprise.

Clear ace.
And she crossed to the other side.