by James McKee
The home seemed pleasant from the street;
Two weeks of rest and therapy,
No more, should put you on your feet.
It didn't sound too bad to me.
Yours was a quiet floor, except
For a lounge where house rules allowed
One shared TV, which the staff kept
Always turned on and always loud.
To reach your bedside, I passed through
Fifty residents slumped in rows,
Unknown to me, although I knew
This was the shore where are washed up
Those who endure, no one knows why;
Where diaper, IV, and sippy cup
Reward the flesh that does not die.
You looked, that first day, out of place:
Tired, yes, and aged by weeks of fear,
But yours was still an exile's face,
Unresigned to a sojourn here.
A doctor, loath to meet my eye,
Said your numbers were unimproved;
Leaving, I passed the watchers by
As their film ended. No one moved.
For days, you would not leave your room;
It heartened me that you were still
Contesting who decides for whom.
Let them learn not to cross your will.
One morning your raised bed was bare.
I found you, parked among the rest,
Too weak to eat, or wheel your chair,
Or notice how you had been dressed.
As I extract you, one grabs hold
And begs me leave his sister be;
Not till nurse comes and he is told
You aren't her, can we roll free.
From a high window we stare out
At some uninteresting street;
At last, not even I can doubt
The entirety of your defeat.
What talk there is is mostly me,
Then only silence, the drab view,
And between us, the certainty
The slot you left will wait for you.