Hobbling on a hand carved stick,
he pulled the green tank of half-breaths,
paused to strike a match to a non-filter.
He struggled into the waiting room;
his tired breaths barely could
catch up with him, swollen feet
stretched around bedroom slippers.
I watched him labor with life,
wishing for something easier,
something sweeter than death.
Wheezing filled the waiting room
drawing in urine-scented air, exhaling
cancer across a constellation of faces.
He struggled to say, Boy, keep up with time,
consumed with counting measured breaths.
Don’t let them keep me, boy. Make
sure they send me home, unsure
if his feet could carry him back to
the place he inhaled for the last time.