Wasting Away, 1996


As I walk to the hospice I try to distract myself by thinking of the world as a painting; tangerine walls, Big Stick sky, a blue owl, a red hawk, birds with no feathers, my heart beats faster, I’m sweating, I’m wet, I’m here. The dome of dying slows time; words and actions fight their way through what seems like solidifying air. Bottles bounce, tubes get the vapors, patients float, magic is all around. Cockleburs in my socks tell me it’s time to leave, what day is it? I look out the window, a garden of earthly delights. If he could stand in that paradise, you’d mistake him for a stick. The anaconda we call life snakes around his brittle frame, squeezing and taunting, “Not yet, not yet.” I slip a suppository up his ass, constipation from morphine, the drugs here could kill an elephant but not the elephant in the room. Nothing phases him; he loves his bed, the nurses, and the food! All is a gift, in and out the door. Beeps are beats; long beeps are songs. 

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