Mortaljive: The Rest is Silence

There is no still point in all the Universe, and that is the rock upon which I stand

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

i saw an old man today

i saw an old man today
he had been in the hospital
weakened, sick, unable to walk, facing darkness
his voice a whisper, like dry paper

his daughter came to see him
she, along with her husband
came to give love and attention
to talk about little things
with modest hope, with careful grace

it was the husband who went back to the house
to find the old man's wife dead on the floor
just the two of them, and then infinity
he drove back to the hospital, where
he took his wife aside and told her the hard news
next, he told the old man what had happened
what he had seen
that she was gone

five days later the old man was transported by medical van
to the funeral home
he entered in a motorized wheelchair
and made his way to the viewing room
he could just see her over the quilt
the body of his wife
her face red, her hair in a silent, cautious wave
he told me he wanted to hold her hand
and for around ten minutes that was what he did

the old man returned to the medical van
and rode the hydraulic lift
the medical technician fixed the straps
and secured him to the floor
they drove off, back to the hospital
such heavy things for hearts to hold

old men with wives now dead
familiar faces now in sorrow's way
old men who tremble in loss
old men, like silent wolves
take their turn on the moon
old men sit very still in the shadows

***

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