A poem a day keeps the cobwebs off my keyboard.
|They are rhythmic and life-sustaining,
but there’s no comfort in those
desperate, rasping breaths.
The nurse swabs your mouth moist,
a practiced act of training and routine,
but still a compassionate relief.
If I didn’t know her function, I would smile
at her and say “thank you”. My gratitude
would well up in the corners of my eyes,
and be spoken in your name.
But she is just death’s watchman.
We sit here together, without speaking,
and I hold your hand while she lowers
your head, appearing to make you comfortable.
And I, without speaking, see what
she doesn’t know I understand -
that there is no more urgency,
no need for her clinical skills,
no rush for her to suction,
to rescue, to pull back to life.
She has permission to let you go.
And though I am caught in the unrelenting
struggle between love and loss, I know
that I cannot object. It is best I smile and
hold your hand until you leave me.
Death is only a shadow -
we run ahead of it all our lives
our faces upturned towards the sun,
until it is time to stop
and let its shadow
She lowers your head, and
I hold your hand as you turn
away from the sun, and face the shadows.