Surrender – A Poem for My Cousin

I will stare into your eyes
As the poison drips into my arms
And laugh when I tuck plane tickets
To Europe in my suitcase

I will make faces at you
As I lay on the operating table
And laugh when my shirts are looser
And I see how much weight I’ve lost

I will flip you the finger
As I’m holding my kids
Celebrating graduations and birthdays
And even just regular days

I will slap you as you try to steal
The warmth of my blankets
And the heat of my lover
Wrapped in promises of forever and never

Yet when the time comes
And I know the difference between beignet and brioche
And I’m down to my high school weight
And the kids have gone back to their full lives
And my lover has fallen asleep on the couch

I will look you in the eyes
And smile sweetly
As I beckon you to me
And lay my head on your shoulder
Holding tightly
As you carry me across the threshold



My cousin, Rowena, died in the early morning of Monday, May 11, 2020 after a long fight with breast cancer.  Coincidentally, Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt from last week requested poems responding to the questions, “If you were looking death in the face, what would you remember with joy? Who would you think of fondly? What would you remember sadly?” You can read other thought-provoking responses to her prompt here.  The submissions by Anjum Wasim Dar, Adrian Slonaker, and Mike Stone especially resonated with me this week.

Rowena is my first cousin to pass away. I didn’t think I was in that “season of life” yet, but with the pandemic and the state of our world, maybe it’s time to accept that Death has no season, no time line. It certainly wasn’t the time for Ahmaud Arbery.  I had always thought that if I was confronted by Death, that I would fight and have to be dragged to the grave…now the thought of surrendering to the inevitable, doesn’t seem all that scary…is that thought because of Faith or ignorance or a rational reaction to the hardship of living? I guess I won’t know until I’m looking Death in the face.


© 2020 iido

19 thoughts on “Surrender – A Poem for My Cousin

  1. Had to read this several times … so sweet and profound! You have addressed death with your heart and eyes wide open, the healthiest way to go … when it comes we never know …

    Sorry for your loss but grateful I’m a breast ca survivor …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So beautiful and deeply profound, Irma. I would rather not have to face it and let it embrace me in the quiet of the night. But we cannot choose how to go…
    Hugs, my dear friend. However much we maybe prepared, it is such a huge loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my, Irma, what a special poem. Beautifully done. And, as usual, I found your narrative as thoughtful and insightful as your poem. You’re right, death has no season, which is why the important thing is to lead the best life possible, happy and useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohhhh dear when i read the title i told myself “oh no she’s gone” as i immediately remembered your previous post about her fighting the big C.
    My deepest condolences Irma

    May she rest in peace 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So, so beautiful. As painful as the loss is for those of us left to grieve, it is easier when a life full of love is lived without regrets. I think it is a process to be able to come to a point of acceptance of the inevitable for the dieing and the living. So very sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

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