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a poem for poetry thursday

liz lamoreux

Today I am sick, working from bed all day. Millie keeps coming in somtimes cuddling with me on the bed, sometimes looking at me with an "are you really staying in there all day?" expression. My post for Poetry Thursday is late. But I didn't really start writing this poem until this afternoon, when a sudden connection danced across my brain. It is still a draft, but I decided to share it here. It needs to be set free into the world and not trapped in my heart. 


She opens the door and motions us down the hall.
As we walk, she says,
we had to put him on oxygen.
He pulls his face out of the mask,
looks into my eyes, reassured by my presence.
Or so I believe because he cannot tell me.
How much time?
I say, stroking his forehead.
He is suffering, be quick.
I whisper in his ear,
then nod.
Seconds pass as he looks into my eyes.
I stroke his forehead,
his eyes slowly droop.
She nods.
He is gone.
Sobbing, I lay over his body.

Today I think about you.
Wondering about those last seconds
when you were dying,
when they couldn’t fix you.
And I rage inside
at you
at God
at them.
I wanted to be there.
I wanted to stroke your forehead
and whisper in your ear.
Though the moment would have been greater
than a nod from one person
and an IV full of finality,
I wanted to be there.

She leads us back to the room.
A few minutes later they bring him to us.
I run my hands down his back and legs
wanting to feel every inch,
Touching his face, nose, neck,
removing his collar,
folding up the blanket
that cradled his body in the last moments.
I catch myself mesmerized by the stillness
of a body that would usually react to any touch.
Today, I wish I would have spent more time,
stroking, praying, wishing,
but then I was thinking,
they need the room.

A few hours after they wheeled you
out of the chapel, I was softly crying
(knowing my role was to be composed),
aching for the honor
of looking into your face
when the doctor nodded.
My aunt said to me,
we would have never gotten you out of that room.
I admit she might be right.
I might still be standing beside you,
stroking your forehead,
mesmerized by the stillness of your body.
And if someone said, m’am we need the room,
I would not move,
I would just stroke your forehead
wishing you to breathe
just once more.