by Marc Swan
When thunder rumbles over his bed
he doesn’t move. Does he hear it?
Does he understand? He’s been
in this place three years. His pale
watery blue eyes grown accustomed
to changing light of morning, afternoon
and night. He speaks less, mostly phrases,
jumbled thoughts, sometimes a pinhole
appears and words flow. I watch his eyes
flutter. What does he hear? His impassivity
is unsettling. He has an untreated angio
sarcoma, raw and oozing on his forehead,
unclipped fingernails, toenails thick
and gnarly, a shock of unruly white hair.
We wash it once a week, says the stocky
woman with yellow teeth, a crooked smile.
In the afternoon residents gather in the
main room for games and cookies. His
girlfriend, my mother says, pointing to a dark-haired
middle-aged woman in a blue hospital gown
staring at the red exit sign over the door.
Her husband comes daily as my mother
does. They never seem to notice, off by
themselves in another time. I think of
choice. I think of timing of that choice.
When the whippoorwill sings, there’ll be
a new day. If you hear it. If you understand.