The Weight of Absence

  Judy Katz



When you died our house sank deeper into the earth,

pressing on the roots of trees. 

I could feel it sinking

as each visitor pushed open the front door,

laden with cakes and casseroles, the full weight

of their bodies—every muscle and tendon,

shinbone   pelvis   hips  moving

down the hallway, moving past the closet

where your dresses hung, still with your smell,

moving into the living room where our father

sat low to the ground.


I had watched you grow smaller and smaller,

ice chips on your tongue.

And as the morphine took you

here and there, Paris and summer camp,

the lake at night—

I thought I understood:

lighter and lighter

you would become,

a lightness leading

to nothing.


But the house did not rise that day;

it sank.

No mass      no matter

no thing     in the bed

in the blankets

in your place.