word poem:\\ athwart

athwart: across or over; diagonally.

I sat by the bed 

as she died, expected
her to die while I sat rubbing her shoulder
until she murmured, thick-tongued, for me to stop
how the slightest pressure can cause pain
the urge to perform some ritual with my hands
stifling all impulses other than waiting
watched breaths draw in and expel
in uneven tidal cadence
and, at the moment of death
I only saw a faint heave of chest
a throb quivering to a halt
no lift of spirit or collapse of flesh
but to be sure, I touched her neck athwart
and felt no pulse, watched as her lips
gradually blued and turned cool, skin waxy
the escape of a small whoosh of air
as I placed a hand over her heart
the disquiet as her eyelids floated open

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