A woman was popping her gum when my mom died.
The hospital was nearly empty–
the air was taking up all of the space.
I sat outside, like people do,
when they’ve been sitting inside for a very long time.
and I shut my eyes to the sounds around me.
Then pop, pop, pop.
hard, fast, and true and backwards
and forwards in my brain like echoes.
The heart monitor held conversation—
everyone else had the secrets, hushed.
And the gum filled, busted, emptied.
To one another— beep, pop, beep, pop.
They don’t know hospital rituals.
I guess they do.