A Way to Spell Red that Doesn’t Rhyme With Dead or Head or Said.
I should have known you lived in terror.
A somnambulist at eight, you turned right
Instead of left and peed on the bedroom wall
Our mother calling your name wishing you
Out of an open-eyed dream, our father
Forty years later, legs motionless
Inside hospital knee-highs shielding
Seized limbs from frigid air condition
Sucking sounds, his breathing
A mechanized gasp--unrecognizable.
Lost in the moments of an unremarkable day.
Six a.m. sun restlessly brilliant. I breathe
Fresh city air and leave the room of dying.
Your beloved. His brain ruined to your gaze
His eyes shut heart still pumping.
Over-efficient nurse busily busying,
Annoyed annoying, another vitals check.
Her feet stumble seeing death from the doorway.
The chafing of pantyhose squeaking
Rubber soles scrape waxed linoleum.
She grabs his wrist, ‘I don’t have a pulse’!
The moment of dying leaves us deaf
I’m at his side but it’s not my body
brushing against stainless steel
side rails, and pale sheets his face
a column of ochre.