We disagree: who cares for her, and how, who pays,
who sides with whom, who loves her more, and him.
After the fight that every family falls through
when sibling-strangers are flung together to attend
a slowly dying mother—after the angry e-mails
and the bitter phone calls—after the shock of learning
how far apart we are, how deeply we disagree—
Martha, Magdalen, Thomas, Peter—
even Pilate, even Judas—how different we are,
the gods that we honour—after all the dust has settled
and we’re back in the river, pulling together, oar-stroke
by oar-stroke, no coxswain to guide us, sculling in time—
after the fierce, brief battle of our worst, wounded selves—
nothing has changed. She is dying.