It is a habit by now:
testing death with a fingernail,
or cupped in a palm,
feeling its shape and heft.
You inspect it like your mother
in the grocery store, prodding apples
she does not want to buy,
her fingertips pleating like tissue
against their skins.

It does not weigh as much
as people say
Sometimes it is no heavier
than a beef heart
carried from the butcher’s
in dripping paper.
Other times it is light
and yielding as the loaf of bread
pressed in the arthritic crook
of your mother's arm.
It is never as heavy as rage
or lack of love.

And yet, when put on the scale,
it is always too much.
You put it back, shaking your head,
the way your mother, clucking,
returns a bruised fruit to the crate,
puts on her gloves,
and pushes her cart away.

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