one christmas day

May 29, 2012
i sit
with my legs dangling
over the edge of
glass blackness
that day

i watch my
mothers hands
more than
i watch the
Figure in the hospital bed.

her hands
clasp and
unclasp
i
see little red marks
left behind and i
wonder
whether
god makes other pain
go away when
there’s only so much you can take
her face is red and i
mentally tell her to breathe
but i can’t because
I’m not breathing either

i don’t cry
all my tears
left me in that sickeningly
sterile waiting room
i consider waiting rooms
while i sit there not looking at the
Figure in the hospital bed
there was a man there
who waited in that
waiting room for a
month
waiting
waiting for what
for recovery uncertain
for death certain
his eyes were dead.
maybe mine were too
i guess i wouldn’t know
since i see
nothing in the mirror.

why aren’t we there?
Oh—
we left the waiting room
to Wait in the Figure’s room. I
forgot.

mother is told to sit but
she stands staring without seeing
the Figure in the hospital bed

why did
they put headphones on the Figure—
she can’t hear
I just think that to be odd
Odd for a
Dead body to listen to the bible

yes she’s dead
she was without oxygen for 20 minutes and
her heart stopped
its only machines keeping her alive
so all that’s left is
A Body.

i consider this
vaguely
an empty shell
oh, i don’t know this person—
her eyes— no, the eyes— are shut so tightly
i can hardly see the seam

she breathes mechanically—
or the machines breathe for her—
forcing
oxygen that doesn’t want to be there any more
swssshhh. –pause…- shwooooo. –pause…- swssssssh –pause…- shwoooo –pause…-
i listen to this for awhile
as i study the blue and white tiles
ugly tiles, i realize,

as i listen to
a breath that’s not her own

the mechanical
breathing pauses for a
prolonged
moment
i do not look
for I know what is happening
and
it scares me

her
arms and legs are lifting
all at once as if
orchestrated
beneath ghostly sheets
and settling

then the breathing starts
again
swssshhh.
shwooooo.
swssssssh.
shwoooo.


i’m not sure
how much
time passes
time isn’t really something
i’ve paid much attention to lately
all the days are starting to
run together
i don’t remember
sleeping
last night

earlier was
christmas day
i didn’t realize that until
i rolled over to
see daddy sitting sadly on the
edge of his hotel bed
just looking at us
merry christmas
he said weakly

i am brought back
from having been inside
myself forever-long
because the doctor has
arrived
with bad news
i know this because
that’s all doctors arrive with

i think in the back of my
echoing head that
maybe i’m still inside myself and
i don’t know it
and then i mull over the possibility
of this
trying on purpose to ignore the
doctor

i decide that i hate this doctor
him and his stupid
white coat
and glinting stethoscope that’s
probably more of an
accessory that a tool
why is he standing like
that, so squarely and perfectly
one foot in one tile
and one in another
he looks ridiculous

and i think these things while
he tells us things that
i try not to hear like
the machines need to be
turned off because
she’s brain-dead
and
she’s not coming back

and that’s all he says
and he sits there
looking like some
impassive statue
as if we are
just part of an assembly line
and we need to
hurry up so he can get on
to the next people

and that’s why i hate him
and i decide i don’t like the nurse
either because
she’s
just sitting there with an expression
that’s supposed to resemble
sympathy
but i can tell that
it’s fake
and plus she’s wearing too much
makeup .

but i like the other nurse because
she’s sincere

and i think all these things while
words that i refuse to hear
are quietly spoken

the day ends somehow
and They decide to remove her
from the machines tomorrow because
it doesn’t seem right for her to
officially die on
christmas day


funny
it’s like playing some
kind of twisted god—
we decide when
to kill her
I think wryly

even though i know she’s
already
dead.

the next day i’m
walking without seeing
stepping diagonally across those
ugly blue and white tiles
i keep stepping
diagonally even when
someone crosses my path
i get dirty looks but
i don’t care

i side-glance my
dad
he looks dead
i side-glance my
mom
she looks deader
so i go back to stepping diagonally
across bleached tiles
empty mind, empty mind
that’s my coping method.
step step step
cross
step step step
cross

and the group pauses
outside of
the Figure’s room
empty mind, empty mind
the doctors are waiting
empty, empty
what’s the wetness on my face?
Oh.
tears.
empty mind, empty mind

they ask if
i want to be there
when It happens

i don’t answer
empty mind
this tile is bluer than the others, hm
and i think about this, and i count the
thousand speckles in the square—
more wetness

they send me and my sister
to an employees room
and i
somehow get there

my sister
i forgot about my sister
i look at her
she’s dead too
so i go back to chewing on my lip
until I taste blood, then I keep chewing


the nice nurse comes in and gives
me some tissues,
oh, i guess i was crying
i didn’t realize

she’s saying something
like it’ll all be ok
and i’m just nodding and nodding,
wanting her to be quiet
because i have a headache

and suddenly
i remember when i last saw Her
i got this weird feeling when
I said goodbye that
i’d never see Her again,
she was so weak and—
could she have known?
she talked to me as if she was saying her
final goodbyes and i
hated it
then i just pushed the thought away

then it occurred to me that
i never said thank you for
the stickers she gave
me

i guess this made me upset because
i suddenly need the tissues
is the nurse still there?
was she asking me a question?
oh.
yes, i nod, even though
i don’t know what she said
empty mind empty mind
i start tapping my feet on the ground
and
staring through the floor
and i wonder if
i look hard enough, maybe i’ll see
the lobby

then another nurse comes in
with her lunch

she eyes us in a way
i think is skeptical
a teenager a preteen
what are we doing in here

and i
glare at her
until she looks away and
we sit like this in silence
then i get fed up with her stupid
eating noises and i
put my fingers
in my ears

my aunt comes in
she talks for
awhile
i don’t know what
she says
i don’t nod
i don’t even pretend
to be interested



she doesn’t
notice
she just keeps
talking
maybe talking’s
her coping method
what ever
it’s not mine.

my dad enters
he looks solemn
though
solemnity is not very rare lately.

behind my dad

i see Him
He was crying
never seen Him cry before.
i just stood there
then i was hugging him
and he was hugging me back.

we all leave
the hospital.
leave the waiting room.
the ugly blue and white tiles.
the now empty hospital bed.
it’s cold outside…
I hear the faint tinkling of
jingle bells in the distance

then i think back to christmas eve…
we were in
the waiting room
someone turned the small tv to
that channel that
plays all the christmas specials all day
and
i watch it even though it
hurts to twist my neck up in that
direction I keep watching
the doors open
someone says hohoho
i turn and see a
man in a santa suit

i suddenly feel sad
he quietly says
merry christmas
i sort of smile
because
that was nice.
i don’t say anything
someone says thank you
and i watch him until
he leaves
and shuts the door
and through the window i see him
turn down the hall into
another waiting room.

then i
turn back to rudolph
even though i’m
too old for it
i watch it
intensely.

a sudden tear
brings me back to
the present
i walk shakily to
our car

it’s dark outside…
how did that happen
somehow we
are back at the hotel and
somehow we
get to sleep

the next few days i
can’t tell one from the other
my mom and Them,
they prepare the
funeral
my dad takes us to get pretty things
dresses
stockings.
necklaces perfume. the first
expensive perfume i ever
owned.
funny how i don’t even
smile.

my mom tells us about the
casket she picks out
i don’t really listen.
i don’t really wanna hear it.

the viewing Day comes
we slowly approach
the Room
and i think
great. another room
to wait in.
and i think how
tired i am
of waiting.

we stop outside
and
i see a coffin of
faint rose

my mother looks weak
my father takes her under the
elbow.

all at once we
walk in.
another group.
there are flowers
i admire
the flowers
i cup a blossom in my
hand
life for death.
though flowers die
quickly.

i do not
approach the coffin.
i sit on
the far side of the room
i look down at my
shoes
there’s no blue and
white tile
there’s
brown carpet
i toe at a lump of ruffled
carpeting
empty mind empty mind

my father comes to me
with pen and paper
i can write a note to Her
he says
and it will be put in the
coffin
it will be with Her forever

i nod
i take the paper
i take the pen.
for a while i
stare at the paper

waiting for the usual rush
of words that usually
results from
the touch of ink to
parchment
it doesn’t come

so i write
things i liked
remembered.
that i loved her.
most importantly i say
thank you for
the stickers you gave me.

that makes me feel better.

i carefully fold
my paper
in half so that the
ends line up
perfectly

my last letter.

i look up
my mother is writing
trembling

my sister is erasing furiously.

i look to my dad.
down at my paper.
he nods
an unspoken understanding
between us.

together we walk
to the coffin.
there is a face there
that i don’t know.
it looks like it has been
covered in wax.
it doesn’t look
real.

They said it would look like
she was just sleeping.

it doesn’t.


my hand shaking
i
put my letter in a drawer
in the side.
then i go to sit back down

time passes
distorted voices
a blur of feet and people and faces
all a haze beneath tears
that i finally admit are tears

how long until we
leave
i don’t
want to be here

a lady asks to
take a picture
of the Body.
i add
her to the
list of people
i hate

i
tell my dad
to tell her no

and i think—
how sick.

i go back to
playing with the carpet



the Day of the funeral
we wake early.
we dress
black adorns
our clothes.
i stand in the mirror
looking at me in
my dress
funny
i’ve never owned
such a nice dress
i think it odd
that i
admire it
it looks nice on my
frame i never noticed before how
thin i look

i turn away from the mirror
i sit on a couch and
wait for my family to finish
dressing
i go back to
emptying my mind.

we leave
the elevator is too
fast
the revolving doors are
too slow.

truck.
engine starts.
road.
we go slow
still we
get there too fast.

a chapel.
music is playing
the only song that
registers in my mind is
Ave Maria

people say nice things
that make others cry
i think my mother
cries
i don’t cry
i’m empty again.
this floor is carpeted too. hm.
many eulogies.
many words.
only a few words
register.
love. sad. happy. heart. roses.

now we must
go to the graveyard.

it occurs to me that
i really hate graveyards.
and hospitals.
and funeral homes.
and doctors.

before we leave the chapel
we must all
walk past the casket again.
i hear a lady that
i don’t know sob wildly.

i don’t sob wildly.

i stand in front of the casket.
i stand there.
i look down through
mist fog
my heavy eyes glide over her body
the clothes.

my mom said that she had to
pick out her clothes.

the ring.
mom and her Brother
gave her that ring.
the watch.
He gave her that watch.

it’s not ticking anymore.


her hands
they look like they were
carved by someone
out of stone
they are clasped together
her chin is pressed into her
neck
it looks uncomfortable in that
soft pink coffin.
with its velvet white cushions
and polished lid.
a lid.
they would close the coffin.
she would be trapped inside a
box.

i look at her
waxy seamless eyelids
i sway under a wave of acid
nausea
i suddenly expect her to open her eyes

i stumble away from
the coffin and
out the door and
into the parking lot
i think someone speaks but i keep walking with
my arms crossed over my chest
it’s cold
i welcome the numbness.

my dad leaves because he’s
a pallbearer
i watch i don’t watch
as they carry the now-closed casket
and push it into a Hearse
i think
who’s driving it

and then i realize that
i don’t really care.

a line of cars make their way to
the graveyard.

we sit again
under a tent
a bishop speaks kind words

more voices
more hands clutch my own
more of my
silent nods
more false
smiles.

there are machines in
the graveyard
an impassive group of
men
work tirelessly
tractors dig dirt
a perfect rectangle is
carved out.

we stand in a line
like dead-eyed statues

the rose-pink
coffin is lowered into the hole.
i never see it again
a new home.
the dirt is packed in
the plaque is cleaned off.
replaced.

the men
the machines
they leave. for there is a
new group of people
at the funeral home.
with a new coffin.
another dead body.

not that they would
think of it like that anymore.
the men were not unlike the machines
in the way they worked…
maybe we are nothing but
merchandise on an
assembly line.

Her grave is plotted next to
His grave. even though He’s
still alive.
they showed us their graves
three years ago.
in this very same graveyard…
i didn’t like it but
i never thought that
they would ever be occupied.

childish thoughts.

someone hands me
a rose.

i look down at it.

it has been
stripped of it’s thorns.

i bury my face
amidst the petals and
breathe in deeply
i smell its
sweet perfume
mingled with cold air

i twirl it in my fingers…
a single petal
floats away and rests on
the ground.

i don’t pick it up.

i kiss this rose

three times
so it will live forever

then i put it in the steel cup
on her grave





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