It was the first time I'd ever seen him
Without the dentures, an oxygen tube like a great plastic, stained tentacle
Snaking its way into the innermost bronchial fortress,
Bare white chest heaving in a puckered second guessing, the innermost secrets
Shutting themselves down in neat little rows and the ultimate frailty of breath
Giving up its place in time.
Up and down the halls they come and go
With great, rumbling trays of destruction and delicate instruments, poised
For the mundane catastrophes and the rather ordinary choking, and the hopeless,
and the terminally ill the
Optionally challenged and chemically dependent, Broken metatarsals and wasted
Rocking back and forth in some kind of symphony
Like the rapid, thready pulse of a huge dying beast.
Everybody cried all at once when the machine said he he was finally dead,
Most agreed he lived way too long anyway and still it took him
An extra twelve hours, floating probably around his dying room in slow circles
How it all comes down to this,
How do people with their own burdens and unresolved quandaries manage to gather
And make each other even more miserable?
When they unplugged the machines the air drained out of the room like spent
Everywhere was space and yet the room was cramped, suddenly we were all
And he was dead and I left.
They told me later that everyone fought over his meager possessions,
He would have liked that, and
Watching people scavenge through his old trailer for mementos and relics,
He would have liked that too.