Susan Musgrave
"Personal Effects"

the wrenching nature of personal effects when the person they belong to
has already lost so much…
Lynn Crosbie

I go through what I have left of you: a Glad bag
full of syringes, the scorched glass cylinder
you buy a rose in a tube at a gas station. Take the cork ends
off the tube and throw the rose out the window —
you called a straight shooter, scraps of Brillo pads,
Chore Boy, your brand of choice, a piece of coat hanger
to pack the steel wool into the tube. Condoms, assorted
colours. A tourniquet. A bag of bottle caps called “cookers”:
"You put the dope in it, cook it up and mix it around, then you
draw it into the rig and slam it.”
How much
you taught me; how much I resented having to learn.

And your journal, the entry you wanted me to hear
when we met for coffee at Habit: Chapter One:
The Sober Years.  I said, “Aren’t you jumping the gun,
baby?  You haven’t even been to rehab yet?”
You looked at me with those round eyes
that seemed to say don’t ever stop believing
in the goodness of this world,
and said, “Mum,
that was age zero to eight. Remember?”
I remember. The moment you were born, how you 
popped out of me, two weeks late, like a tiny, shiny
lifesaver. The first time I gave you a bath, then
lifted you from the water and balanced you
on the palm of my hand, where you quivered
like a soap bubble. I wondered then how I would bear
the weight of it, but for that moment I knew what it felt like
to hold all that mattered in the palm of one hand.