It is the uncertainty that destroys me.
The beep beep of the machines
counting heartbeats that bring
Air to lungs that will not receive,
Soft mourning, like sighs
The husband who thought he
would be first to go.
Like that dinner when,
Head sinking forward
the wheezing stopped.
But the beep beep of the machines
kept the heartbeat going
And so we kept going.
Marching on generations,
Ellis Island, Galveston Harbor,
Jumping off the boat to start
A bakery, seeds in the cake
So no one would know
the lemonade is from powder.
My uncle sent him off with a bottle
of the finest Czech beer.
Did he dream his granddaughter
would one day see the moon landing?
Could he picture us in his head,
his head so wise he told her to invest
in Sheetrock (alas, gone unheeded).
Did he see her driving up to Boston,
Leaving behind those conservative plains,
The dust and fire-ants for a land of
bright lights and sawdust and a Yankee boy?
A boy who stood her up and then married her,
Laughing in the New England summer,
And, arm in arm with daddy
Going down the stairs in her childhood home.
Does he see his son now?
Soft, shaking mourning
for a not-yet dead love.
What does she look like in that bed?
That woman who took him,
Little Bobby, and ran ran ran.
No more of that now,
Failing health dictates immobility and
Slavery, to the beep beep of the machines. And
a sacrifice: three feet of gut,
consumed first by virus then by scalpel.
Each year he loses her a little bit more,
A patch of skin here, a hip there.
And each year, she is more ever present,
So how is it now,
She is dying?