No forest over which the red shouldered hawk
can call and display, no oak in which to nest.
The black poll warbler has no stop-over
on its way north, no insects to fuel its flight.
Sun will not be shredded onto the forest floor.
The tuxedoed towhee will have no leaves
in which to scratch, its song will not spill
into morning air. Nor will wild turkey
have places to search for roots and insects,
no roost free from the fox's hunt.
No shade will remain for the fern to uncoil
or for trillium's subtle bloom. No leaf mold
in which the centipede can hide.
What's left is scarred
and weeps sap.
The ultrasound shows
the tumor that slips
between vessel walls
letting blood pass
into your gut.
I watch as the veterinarian pushes
sodium pentothal into your vein,
wait for the drug to leak
into your cells.
Was the last image
to reach your darkening brain
my blurred remains?
It starts as a bruise
at the ankle,
you don't even know how it happened.
The wound festers,
a break in reddened
skin, a trickle
of pus. Superficial until
a scalpel through the sloughing
tendon and bone. New dressings hide
like snow covering a rose.
at night, only to re-open and drain
in the morning.
Cut and bandage, cut
but the foot
cannot be saved.
HEY OLD MAN
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How come you work so hard to live? Home is a ragged trailer with TV for company. Maybe your brother comes over for awhile, or the grandkids leave their bikes in your yard. Every night, your daughter hooks you up to the fluid that mimics your kidneys. Each day you drag your weak leg to the naugahyde chair, fall in and drift between the sets of exercises I insist you do. I mark your name in the column that counts toward my quota.
You keep smokes close at hand, sit on the porch in a mildewed chair looking at the garden you can't tend. Do you dream of planting pole beans when you doze in the morning sun? Wounds won't heal, bacteria bloom like algae in your abdominal fluid. No nursing home will take you, dialysis costs too much, no money to be made. Your family signs for the surgery that takes one leg, then the other. Is hobbling to the shade to watch the kids play wiffle-ball in the gravel drive enough? Another surgery, this one to route blood to your rotting limb. I wish, "Give up."