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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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your last years ease on by you / without a fight

as the next person gets you up / or sits you up  / or leads you to the potty chair



Refuse to Watch You Die

 By Liberty R. O. Daniels


As I stand in the background

peering around the doorway

watching my sister fawn all over you

treating you like the infant child

that her empty womb never embraced

referring to you as her baby

bibbing you and feeding you tiny peas and carrots

strained to perfection

while you lay in a reclining position

wasting away

in the bed that you refused to share

with my father

your husband of nearly 60 years

waiting with tired old eyes

puffed up and closed

from watching


your last years ease on by you

without a fight

as the next person gets you up

or sits you up

or leads you to the potty chair

and wipes your butt when finished

I refuse

I will not watch you die


I see you sleeping

your mouth open

false teeth protruding forth

half in half out

like a late-night movie monster of sorts

breathing labored

but just enough to cause a snore

with stale breath breezing past my nostrils

Your long silky hair is pulled back

away from your face

into a ponytail

and you look so helpless

like the cactus that you have been made in to

and it may please her

that you are in your present condition

dependent upon her

for your every movement

your every breath

but not I

I absolutely refuse

I will not watch you die


Once a month

she dresses you up

drags you out of the house

to the doctor

where she discusses you

as if you were not there

giving progress reports

and answering questions directed to you

too impatient to wait for your slow-reaction response

Then off to the beauty shop

where hair-dressers dye your hair

keeping the gray away

that never graced your head

because you were too vain to let it

They place that hot comb

on hair that should not be hot combed

and burn your scalp

and you never flinch

or cry out

or complain

but the evidence is there

when my youngest daughter

your last grandchild

massages your scalp

and combs your hair

and finds those dark crusty spots and asks

        "what's this, Mommy?"

and I tell her

and become irritated with them

and wonder if you felt pain

        as your scalp was singed by them

and wonder if they apologized to you

        for having hurt you

and wonder if they even knew

        what they had done

        or cared that they did it

I refuse

I will not watch you die


I comfort myself

in the house on Evergreen Parkway

in a sub-division where I didn't grow up

by staying in the living room or dining room

watching TV or the occasional traffic that passes by

or squirrels that scamper across the yard

looking for crumbs of food

and I remember those days in the past

when you were the boss

the be all see all know all

in the family

and how everyone had such respect for you

and looked up to you as if you were ten feet tall

Where are all of those people now

now that you are ill

now that you are ailing

festering in your diminished capacity

unlike the brilliant diamond you once were

and hearty party attitude you once displayed

You outlived them

some by decades

and now

you find yourself alone

with your two surviving daughters

and my three children

who are desperate to make a connection with

someone who their mother never made a connection with

because you folded my sister

into the cake batter of your arms and heart

and sifted me out

and though I am not bitter

because I had lots of other mothers

better than you

I still miss that intimacy

that I share

with my youngest daughter

that I never had with you

that I never will have with you

and even so

and even though

we could be very intimate now




I will not watch you die

© by Liberty R. O. Daniels

Liberty R. O. Daniels is a Flint native currently residing in the greater Detroit Metropolitan Area. Influenced at a young age by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," she writes epic poems (or short stories that rhyme) and travels the poetry circuit featuring with sultry coos and howls at American and Canadian venues. An advocate, prominent member, and project coordinator of several cultural and writing organizations, Liberty is the founding editor of "P.O.E.T.S. Newsletter," editor of the Southeast Michigan Region of the International Women's Writing Guild newsletter, and editor of the Southeast Michigan Unit of the National Writer's Union newsletter, "SEMantics."

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update 7 March 2012




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Related files: Those Were the Days  What's up Detroit?     Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep   Refuse to Watch You Die