It wasn’t unexpected not to me
knowing from books that stage IV means
and then the slowing pulse
the pressure is so low, Doctor,
do you want me to measure it again?
this is what we expect when one is dying.
(I’d seen her once the night before
already yellow-grey and pale
paper lids closed rattling gasps dampened
under a haze of morphine)
I am summoned to her room in the early hours
(foggy horizon almost light outside
buzzing hallway bulbs that never sleep)
pulseless though the skin’s still warm
the ghost lifted in her vanished breath.
It is as I expected and I can do
by the bed, a man I assume is but I’ve never met
shoulders softly shaking
face buried in his hands
I’m so sorry for your
his eyes already swollen looking up at mine
and suddenly I am ashamed and
out of place.
Some words should not be spoken by a stranger
even if I am a
how I wish I knew your story.
I pronounce its closure (unwitting angel of death)
Outside the door a young nurse is waiting.
I’ve never I didn’t know what to expect
I know, I whisper. Nor I.
(Down the hall, cacophony of the change of shift
morning commuters clog the streets below)