Shannon Azzato Stephens
I’ve always loved the way you stack your plates
before you are finished eating.
With the salad saucer atop the lasagna platter,
you pick at raw spinach
and saw into your cherry tomatoes with a steak knife.
This morning your hands began shaking
as we cleared the breakfast dishes.
A whole tower of teacup upon saucer
upon cereal bowl on dinner plate
with forks and two oatmeal-coated spoons
wedged between the layers
rattled its way out of your fingers
and spread their splinters across the kitchen floor.
It took me an hour to find the last chip
of our gold-rimmed wedding china
underneath the potted jade plant in the corner
that seemed to grow itself into gnarls
more quickly since you were diagnosed.
At lunch, we made sandwiches on paper plates
and you asked me to cut your tomatoes
while you gazed at the jade plant quivering
in the breeze from the open window.
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