Fog lights on for the drive home
from the hospital this winter's eve.
Spooky night -- temp is four degrees.
He might have been a pilot for how he sees.
Instead, he veers around
all eerie things arising
from the murk. Sentinel son,
he's come from seeing
his mother, who's working hard
and harder at her job
of staying alive for one
more night. She's a Nana
two times over now, two more boys,
young enough not to know
yet the scent of death, its pall.
On they drive, the man and death.
His sister met him in the hall;
she going in, he going out,
revolving loves to help sustain
the one who gave them life.
He asked his younger sib,
"Double double for your trouble?"
A joke as old as they, a family line
passed down from Dad, no longer
here, but here, amid
the bustle and despair.
"Same as Mom," she said, and sighed,
then nearly laughed, and then she cried
a rapid tear, just one, before she
hiked her shoulders up and told him
No ... I just want Mom to live.
He couldn't speak to that. No menu
for that fist within their guts
that every child will crave
when pinned beneath the antiseptic
light of dour relief by drugs
that quell the chains of pain.
No menu nor a drug
to set a plug into that drain.
He let his sister go.
She didn't see his eyes
skitter for a chair as soon
as she had gone around a bend.
His knees went soft. He couldn't
leave. He couldn't drive.
He wanted them to live:
Sister, mother, wife at home,
both his kids, and he himself
who backed into the wall,
sluggish with the grief
of thinking How, and When.
No coffee to appease
his need to be a god, to save
the lives he couldn't save.
He could only cup his palms
around the bones that shook
his legs to gel, to murmur Thank you,
thank you ... for in this moment, all is well.