If I waited too long
between pauses,
I couldn’t breathe.
Couldn’t see through
the streaks on my glasses;
tears caught in my lashes.

If I thought too long
about taking her
to the last appointment,
to the Big Sleep, to
end her life that was
three-quarters of my own,

I couldn’t drive.
Couldn’t get her there.
And I remembered
reading a character
who fell asleep by
counting doubles.

So I tried it.
all the way to
four thousand…
something. I
could breathe,
finish preparing.

Stopped and
started the sequence
so many times, kept
getting stuck at
Got to 12 over and
over and over again
before I realized

I couldn’t even count.
My cat was dying,
surrendered, almost
at peace, and I
couldn’t even
get it together
and count.

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