Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Five poems for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis


An almost, circumstance. Sustained
by intensive care unit, my father’s

withered muscles. First the right hand, legs, the lungs;
a machine to administer breath. On Carling Avenue,

flush in fluorescent polish,

an eternity of blankets, stainless repetition.
Time simultaneously collapsed,

suspends. He will not return home, but
for singular purpose. To finally land; to comprehend

where he once stood.


Pinned, to the weather. If he might or could,
these endless meetings

with social worker, hospital staff. He will not return home,
but might, yes. Texts out

responses, queries. Sister
administers, paperwork: wheelchair,

hospital bed, BiPAP machine,
health workers. His medical history

goes viral. What else. An updated proposal
invites. Bag

by the ready.


Sleep apnea, diabetes,

colon cancer, triple bypass, short term
kidney dialysis,

multiple sclerosis. Worn, our hearts crush.
Wherein, his lungs. He sleeps

all morning, and another year. A blood clot,

cyst; thigh-high, the muscle. Set
the scanners on. Attempt

to drain. It doesn’t, won’t. Home plans
suspend. Demarcate, black marker

lineates. The daily whiteboard calendar

by his bed is obsolete
for half a day.


Imagine, his options: history held

the iron lung. Lists, a sentence. His strength
will not return. Will ours? My sister’s

homemade contraband, a
chicken wrap, delights. We offer strawberries,

raspberries, daily paper. His hospital flatscreen,
suspended in air,

shimmers local news. The only
difference, amid

the daily bleed.


I am aware of my silence
on this matter.

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