Jessica Conley

La Personne

My grandmother and her friends used to call each other to make sure
they were alive. I am terrified of being old, forgetting what I did
last week, or relying on someone to help me up the stairs.
Of living too long but not forever. Of no one answering the phone.

To say person in French, personne. To say no one, personne,
like recalling the body that made the absence,
like existing without the body—personne, one day posing as me;
tomorrow, eternal. Personne without shadows, full of light,
always leaving for something, for nothing, rien.
I miss her desperately.

I used to want to be that personne, empty, undying—
one who has never gone shopping for butter and brown sugar,
never slit her finger cutting open a squash,
never had someone clean her wound before wrapping it with gauze,
never had someone look into her eyes and ask, Better?