this one for that and
that one for this and
they are all twelve years old
gosh they're all super cute,
hip, snappy, right on time with
charm to lose like a wealth of smile,
it won’t hurt to overflow a bucket
of warmth on the individual suffering
an existential moment of
“I hope I wake up”
“I’m sorry for everything”
“I love you.”
"When I wake up, can we move to Brooklyn?"
Cold hard stone passages, hallway arteries
carry husbands and wives of a certain age
to the kind of customary surgeries that result from
a life of purposeful personal care neglect
mixed with genetic predisposition to whatever has slunk
about the system since long before Mom slept with Dad.
The bodies are chunky and broken,
long beards and nose rings,
tight jeans and gut spills,
pale pink knit Mom tops and
peony scattered polyester pedal pushers,
reeking of smoke and
looking a lot like
well, to be honest
a helluva lot more than that’s
been going on all these years.
It does add up.
There are vague looks of worry.
The aloneness of some feels like they are already ghosts.
Many are accompanied by armies of relatives,
cousins, brothers, aunts, mamaw,
support troops in the rare case that their loved one
comes under fire from an enemy that
looks oddly like life.
The family-care specialist
makes sure to have at least
one of their phone numbers.
They fill the consulting room awaiting
arrival of their very own hip, snappy twelve year old
who will provide a confident, detailed explanation of
is he going to make it or isn’t he?
Questions in broken farmer English
are softly asked.
Nervous laughter of relief wafts from the room.
All those who wait, twitching within earshot
of the troops in the nearby bunker, feel it and think
this will be a good day after all.
Perhaps we will survive the battle
Thup thup thups among the
beep beep beeps and the
quavering and shouted, “somebody help me"'s.
Lifeline is here,
We hold our breath as the mind, watching, wanders
to car wrecks and handyman accidents,
Stupid Dad tricks and incidents of child abuse.
The Lord said,
Go in peace and be freed from your suffering,
think the pretty-much-atheists in the room watching.
The tonnage of wasp alights
upon an oddly bright wide expanse of cement as
attention is torn by a sensory assault charging the room:
Somebody took a dump.
In the wrong place.
At the wrong time.
I think I’m gonna die.
Oh the indignity of an ill-timed bodily function.
There but for the Grace of God, as they say.
The red-shirts scramble.
She’s all alone and so frightened.
How can all these children help her,
she manages to think,
via the few small spaces still available for thought,
nestled amongst pockets of brain plaque.
Worry and fear.
Sadness and the urge to get the hell out of there.
As if whatever is happening to everyone
in the freezing identical rooms that emit
bups and yeeps and yelps and sobs
The bumpy stop-stop ride to the East side and out of town via 2nd Street commences.
It’s the same every time.
Strangers in rooms, in pain, in apprehension.
Now let's talk about a place in Wisconsin called Holy Hill.
The long drive up the road to the church passes
fields and a diner.
The church is brick, stoic, a curiosity
lording over empty land.
The sanctuary is a cavern.
On the right wall as one faces the altar
is a bar stuffed with wheelchairs, crutches.
Post-it notes from the healed cover the walls.
Thank you Lord Jesus!
This is the altar.
The sanctity of life.
The sacrament of a tincture.
The evidence of a hope that life can be fixed
like a car that blows a rod,
prayers for a safe landing,
all will be well and
I will move on as I have always moved on.
Curiosity sated, the car that traveled up now
Blows a rod.
Rolls directly into the parking lot of the diner.
Waiting for a tow, a conversation happens.
I say to the teenagers pouring me iced tea behind the counter,
“What do you do guys do for fun around here?”
“There’s a movie theater up the road”, she says.
He blurts with surprising urgency,
there's never been anyone to tell,
“When I was in high school”
to the unusual stranger stuck on a stool,
someone clearly from somewhere else,
someone just passing through,
like a stranger waiting in a hospital for news of a repair,
“my Dad asked me to get up early to help him with the farm,
because he was going to lose it to the bank.
But I didn’t.
And he lost the farm.
So now I just read my Bible…
but I’ve always wanted to live in Brooklyn.”