Fifth of July

bang, pop, whoosh
sizzle, snap, crack
fizz, hiss, BOOM, BOOM

BOOM

in a haze, after the initial phone call, 
she rushed to be by his side,
tunnel vision guiding her there –
she couldn’t think, see, feel anything else,
nothing else registered, 
none of her surroundings, 
nothing at all

all she thought was – I need to hurry, 
I need to hurry,
I need to hurry

after the doctor had delivered the news, 
she stood there, stunned

in her peripheral, she could see the colors exploding in the sky just outside the large window next to his bed,
and it registered in her that it was the 4th,
the rumbling vibration of each detonation feeling as if it were exploding inside her

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM

once she arrived home, 
though she’d desperately needed sleep, 
there was very little

she tossed and turned,
and tossed and turned,
finally giving in to it and getting up early, 
dressing and returning to him

as she walked down the stark, institutional green hall,
each step bringing her closer to seeing with her own eyes that which had been conveyed in words the day before, 
the weight of those words sunk like quicksand to the pit of her stomach

today, she was acutely aware of the clinical smell surrounding her, 
the smell of sickness, 
the stench of sadness filling first her lungs, 
then permeating outward, 
finding an unwelcome home in her veins, 
thick like sludge, 
coursing and thumping

she could hear the cries of sorrow in the bated breath wafting from some of the doors she passed,
she could taste its metallic tang on the tip of her tongue,
and as she arrived at the doorway of the room to which she needed to enter, 
she felt it in her bones,
in her marrow

when she opened the door, 
she became its embodiment

the few steps to the bed took her years:

she passed herself snuggled on his lap as he read to her for the millionth time, Put Me in the Zoo

she watched as she sat between he and her mother on the yellow paisley couch, 
as they tried to explain why they would no longer be a family

she saw the desperation on his face as he finally allowed her to call her mother,
but would not yet let her go home to be with her

she remembered tearing open the Christmas wrap to see the purple down coat she’d wanted so badly, 
the yolk-only egg sandwiches on Sunday mornings, 
and stove-popped popcorn with a rented movie on their every-other Saturday nights

she saw his suntanned, orange-tinted left arm that was darker than the rest of him from hanging out his truck window, 
his splashing in the pool and volleyball in the summer,
and helping her step-brother with homework at the kitchen table while he looked on drinking Pepsi from a two liter bottle

she remembered the wishing she belonged, 
that she fit with them differently, 
more

the coughing, 
she remembered the coughing that just kept getting worse, 
the constant handkerchiefs in his pockets and on the end table with his Winstons next to his armchair, 
the red-faced breathlessness and the wheezing,
the fear in his eyes

she remembered the devastating, life-altering heartbreak,
the disappearing and the wondering, 
the worry and the doubt,
the reconnecting and the doctors and the testing

and finally, the hope,
the hope which had fizzled away the night before with every sizzle and crack, 
hiss and bang and pop

standing next to the impersonal-feeling bed, 
she gripped the cold, stark metal of the railing with both hands, 
trying to take in all that she saw,
the blinking and the beeping in the semi-darkness, 
the machine whose trepidus noise filled the room

suck, push, suck, push,

SUCK, PUSH

eerily loud and unwelcome, 
it was reminiscent of the sounds heard outside the window the night before

her eyes ran the length of the shiny metal pole on which the machine was mounted, 
down to the swiveling wheels which allowed it to be maneuvered to where it was needed,
noticing the simple black cord which extended to the wall

how could such an ordinary-looking plug hold life in the balance?

letting loose her grip a bit, 
she became deftly aware of her own breath, 
in and out, 
of her own heart beating, 
ga-gong, ga-gong, 
so loudly in her chest that it rang in her ears

reaching out, she rested her hand on his chest, 
feeling the unfamiliar, robotic rise and fall,
deftly aware of the cool absence, 
the force of what would not be

she looked up, nodded her head, 
and closing her water-filled eyes, 
she felt with the length of her fingers, 
with the lifeline in the palm of her hand,
with her very soul

the robotic gave way to an arrhythmic slowing:

rise..fall….rise…..fall…….rise……..fall,

fall

beneath her palm there was only stillness,
in the tips of her fingers, 
there was only the thump of her own heartbeat, 
the trembling cry of her core

BOOM

and he was gone

-image via Pixabay; older prose made to poetry and shared as part of dVerse’s Open Link Night

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29 thoughts on “Fifth of July

  1. I was with my dad when he died too. This brought tears to my eyes, not so much from empathy as from the way in which you reached beyond your grief and captured every detail so well that I felt like I was right there beside you in the room.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean. My dad died at home under hospice care. The night he left us, I slept in the room that had been his (not in his bed, though). I was happy to be so near to the place where Dad had spent the last 4 months of his life. But the next day when the hospital came to take the bed away, I couldn’t go in there, and I was never comfortable being in that room again because the empty place where his bed had been was a stark reminder that he was gone. Perhaps I’ll write about it someday.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “she passed herself snuggled on his lap as he read to her for the millionth time, Put Me in the Zoo
    she watched as she sat between he and her mother on the yellow paisley couch”

    From here down was very gripping.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Been there; mom, dad, brother last and lately. Those cancer sticks draw a heavy price. I’m glad you compressed your story into verse. I never read the zoo. The respirator’s suckle push, the chest’s rise fall and the fireworks boom boom boom, all very good imavery. I hope you find healing and release

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think my family read “Put Me in the Zoo” about a million times too. The details of scent and sound, touch of metal put the reader there with you at his bedside…my sympathy, Angela.

    Liked by 1 person

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