Asleep in that hospital bed she looks already
dead, lids closed, breathing shallow, the hospital blanket
pulled over her useless breasts, the tray table watching over
her till her last end: small sponges on lollipop sticks
to moisten and apply like lipstick, a small rectangle
of tissues, a rosary that glows
in the dark, a paper menu never to be filled out,
a wrung-out, slightly damp washcloth. Wilting flowers
line the cold window sill, greeting cards wait to be
shut and hauled home, a peace plant with one white bloom
lights the way, the IV drip of morphine hovering like an angel.
I was afraid the dusky light would crack the window.
She stirred and I held her hand like I was leading her
somewhere. Perhaps I was. I pulled up her blanket
like everyone does in these circumstances because
they don’t know what else to do, because it somehow makes
the patient and the doer feel snugger. When her eyes
connected with mine I knew why I had lived. I knew
where I belonged. Nothing else mattered. Nothing would
stop the human race. I softly spoke to her about
family members who would soon return to join
this vigil, idle talk about doctors and nurses
she could no longer recall, anything but more
silence, the thing there was most of.
She squeezed my hand and I knew.
Marc Frazier is a Chicago-area writer who has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. He has had memoir published in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP,Autre, Cobalt Magazine, et al. His fiction has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Autre, and Unlikely Stories. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, has been featured on Verse Daily, and is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. His three full-length poetry collections are available online. See Marc Frazier Author on Facebook, @marcfrazier45 on Twitter.