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By P. Michael Mastrofrancesco
A tumor in your right lung, no bigger
than a child’s fist, suffocates you
slowly. No more full-throttled breathing,
the constant in and out of cigarette smoke, streams
of white air you blew into rings upon request; its nicotine--
burn scenting drapes, staining walls, your fingernails.
An oxygen tank stands beside your bed; its erratic
alarm beeps false alerts, keeps us at the ready. You
sleep through conversations with visitors, wake
for a feeding, a sip of tea and chip of cracker, never
make it to the bathroom without aid, agree to diapers
when standing makes you dizzy.
Pillow and mattress swallow you whole, only
your foot pokes above horizontal. Not too long ago
you held me in a headlock, wrestled
me to the floor. Gonna give? Gonna
give? You stood me back-to-back to see how tall
I had grown. Over time your head inched
down my vertebrate marking my growth
and your shrinking.
You hope to reunite with the daughter who
died not too long ago, the one you nursed but couldn’t
keep alive. You lift your head
off the pillow as you exhale, inching
your way skyward. I look about the room filled
with dozens of family photographs, search for a sewing
kit, a needle and thread, some safety pins
and wire to sew your nightgown to the mattress, keep you
here, do as you taught me, never give up.
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Document last modified on: 01/06/2007