I felt the hand of my mother
patting my right shoulder just outside the covers
so gently the first night after she died, and yes

it could have been the heater
blowing its warmth my way, or perhaps

fatigue releasing muscles from their ropes, even
an angel’s touch-and-go, if you believe—

but I know with the body's certainty
born of her body, that my mother came to console;

not to explain or forgive, as her endearments
sometimes turned— or turned to relief, her silhouette
down the hall stealing away—

but once love becomes a habit, sure
as a dream bleeds from darkness into day,
it is hard to break, even when broken—