Exploring the complicated truth of life with poet Sierra DeMulder
Sierra DeMulder is an internationally-recognized poet, educator, and podcast host. She is a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, a five-time published author (The Bones Below, New Shoes on a Dead Horse, We Slept Here, Today Means Amen, and Ephemera), and the co-host of Just Break Up, a globally popular advice podcast that has been downloaded more than 4 million times. Sierra lives in upstate New York with her wife and daughter.
While my grandmother waits for death
in the other room—her lips cracked as
brown sugar, her fingers moving in sleep
against the buttons of her nightgown—
the women in my family play cards.
They forget to eat. Cry about past lovers.
Sort bills and outdated subscriptions.
They sit on the floor, taking turns massaging
out the grief and answering worried calls
from friends, clergy, neighbors who
sloppily soak the phone with their regret—
I should have called earlier but the holidays,you know? There is camaraderie among
women and death. Both know how to
become a vigil. To be busy and still.
An usher from one room to the next.
One sister drove through the night.
One daughter wore the same clothes
for a week. I was wrong; my grandmother
isn’t waiting for death. Instead, drifting
in and out of a much softer word. It is
the living who wait. Who count the hours,
the morphine doses, the last requests
for ice chips—with their card games and
their tears and their own hushed regrets
from all the time they had nothing to wait for.