visitation

blue ink (dollar bill phone number
caught in the wash,
left out in the sun,
folded unfolded folded again)
pulses beneath a gown
the length of a summer dress.
i am uncomfortable.
slow indigo vibrations struggle
up from soft slippers
towards a soft hemline,
merit badges of a life
slow and exposed on their long trek
to the heart, then the lungs and then,
perhaps, the brain.
the imagery throws me:
twilight, parties in july,
the struggle of salmon moving upriver,
a message scrawled to a stranger
on cotton currency.
all this life, this effort,
this complexity of detail
rushes through the room
when i see you: swinging shuffling feet
off the edge of a safety bed, rail down.
strangers peer through the open doorway,
whiff the soft dying smell
of waxed linoleum
of your roommate’s bedpans
of hallmark cards no longer new,
and move determinedly on (maybe a mall,
a restaurant, a theater. someplace else).
the life within these walls asserts itself
subtly, more shyly than the life
to which i am accustomed.
the effort is at once more feeble
and more calculating. the detail,
infinitely less glamorous.
they seem unconnected,
two sides of very different coins.
my mind and stomach revolt
at the possibility of sameness.
will i sit then where you sit now,
drooling, telling the same story over again,
scuffing house-shoes absentmindedly
back-and-forth-and-back?
the rest of me wants badly to be on your team,
same world, same side. forget the glam.
i focus on similarities. kleenex.
nail clippers. central air.
a bird feeder. old flowers.
the prevalence of cotton.
spectacles. a calendar.
i love you and
do not want you to die.

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