AT HER BEDSIDE

In my attempt to draw her attention
to visions of the sweetest parts of living
instead of her dying

I say,
It must be so beautiful
where you’re going.

I tell her to imagine
sunset
burning bright pink orange & red
the kind that doesn’t look real
the kind that looks like a painting
when you know tomorrow will be great
—a sailor’s delight.
I tell her to imagine
the smell of freshly cut grass
lying on her back
watching the clouds roll by
in all kinds of shapes.
And
the crunching of fall leaves under her feet
making snow angels in the yard
walking to school when the snow is feet deep
on the road where she grew up in South Portland
where the tree branches hang so low
covered in white
walking back home
and drinking a cup of hot chocolate
topped with marshmallow, inside.
I tell her to imagine the ocean
as a young girl again
on her father’s sailboat
with the wind whipping her hair
and the smell of salt water filling her nose
sailing far, far away
into the horizon to who knows where.
I tell her to imagine
basking in the sun
relaxing in a lawn chair
the taste of lemonade
the smell of hot pavement
the wavy mirage of ground in the distance,
and then comes the rain shower
a sun shower
the smell of freshly fallen rain on the pavement
and the thunder and lightning
giving life to the whole planet.
I tell her to imagine
sipping the perfect cup of tea
a splash of milk and no sugar
the way she likes it
curled up with a good book
under piles of blankets
on a cloudy day
listening to the tap tap of rainfall
dancing on the rooftop.
I tell her to imagine
a hot bubble bath
accompanied by soft jazz music
and vanilla scented candles burning.
And
picking out the perfect Christmas tree
stringing up white lights
and putting on the decorations
handmade by her children.
I tell her to imagine
the smell of fresh laundry
linen hanging out on the line
blowing in a soft summer breeze
and her grandchildren
running naked through the sprinkler
in the backyard of her old home on Sunset Lane.
I tell her to imagine
walking through green fields
picking the ripest strawberries
sleeping outside in the nighttime
lit by nothing but a full moon
and an infinite starry sky.
I tell her to imagine
dancing and being twirled around
and dipped down so low
that her hair kisses the ground
and long car rides
driving through hills and valleys
when a favorite song on the radio plays
belting it out without a care
if anyone is listening
and laughing so hard
it hurts to breathe.
I tell her to imagine
a long walk on the beach
sand filling the space between toes
a hundred sand dollars washing ashore
because she always wanted to find one
but she never got the chance.

This is how I let the story end
gazing at her face
forever sleeping.

She says nothing
but her closed eyes flutter lightly
and I know
she’s envisioned every word I said.


KENNEDY JOHNSON is a human being just trying to get a taste of all of life’s sweet honey. They are finishing their last year at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology. They currently reside in the Portland, Maine area and work at Urban Farm Fermentory. They are a queer activist, lover of nature, wordsmith, and survivor of sexual violence. They strongly believe in the power and strength of vulnerability and primarily use their creative juices to create and perform poetry.