Sunday, July 11, 2010

Last Bell

I would sit and watch her at the end of the corridor...
the hallway like a pristine white tunnel or a beckoning white light.
Glass doors enclosing him as if he was some magnificent bird on display.
She sat each day and night in everlasting vigil,
his night watchman, waiting.
She gripped his hand,
with memories, I'm sure, of a chubby-faced boy,
as they walked hand-in-hand on his first day of school.
She remembered the drawings he made for her...
the candy red apples on trees as green as Spring's new grass,
wax yellow sun with smiling face like the man in the moon.
Sticky finger prints from dime store lollipops on handmade Mother's Day cards,
macaroni necklaces, refrigerator drawings and kool-aid kisses.
I see shoelaces untied and jelly bracelets.
Friends visit like a Friday night;
bringing music, in hope that he'll hear his favorite song and awaken to join the party.
The cheerleaders "waltz" outside his room in uncomfortable silence,
classmates file in like students trying to beat the last bell.
Teddy bears and tears.
An endless parade of last goodbyes and regrets.
Lives barely begun watching one of their own at the sudden end of his.
A tragic casualty of a bad decision.
I see his grandmother in the corner of my eye,
slowly she walks, as she is supported both physically and emotionally,
painfully with each step recalling fresh cookies and hot cocoa.
We are strangers but linked together in our different sorrows.
We have family meetings in that side room with long silences and deep breaths.
Talks of insurance, decisions and hope.
I see his father, a tall man,
now bent over his bedside, head in hand.
He talks in quiet tones amidst the intercom,
the electronic heartbeat of various machinery with factory sounds working into dawn.
Trying to make conversation with strangers,
Ladies in white, like spectres and angels of hope, surround him.
He recalls baseball in the backyard and playing catch on summer lawns,
shirt sleeves rolled up and squatting on bended knee,
pitching underhand to the sound of a plastic bat.
That first bike with baseball cards stuck in the spokes,
Father's Day and Boy Scout spaghetti dinners...all flash by in a flurry,
like that snowstorm the day he heard his newborn cry for the first time.
We meet occasionally in the large room with the t.v and endless coffee and kleenex.
Strangers yet the same as we are both on the same night shift, with different duties.
We offer meaningless conversations to pass time and offer some degree of comfort.
She takes my hand...
I tell her the story of the stranger next to her son in his own glass crypt.
She cries for not only me, but for herself and her child.
I am moved by her sorrow, touched by her empathy and overcome by the tragedy.
He is healthy she says, but is silenced inside and out and will remain so.
I pray.
She cries and tells me she prays...just for his heart to finally stop beating.
*Watch the video on the Visual Poetry page tab on the top of my blog*

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