Sitting at a bedside, looking at the dying man,
His eyes closed on his yellowed head,
His nostrils moving slightly like weak bellows
And me, breathing with him and for him and at him,
Trying to recharge this exhausted battery,
To wish the impossible wish that his face would show a trace of pink,
His nose would twitch a signal,
His eyelids, like a carrier pigeon’s wings, would deliver a message,
His near-silent communication would show he was not as bad as he looked.
No night-vision glasses to see life leaving his body,
Just a little less breath-noise, deflation, exhaling more than inhaling,
Lifeless, as the stillness of a glass pond that was once busy with ripples.
Mildew and moss are taking hold in cracks
And grooves of the weathered concrete headstone,
But I can still read the birth and death dates,
The first, middle and last names, cold, hard facts,
A pittance of proof that he was once here
But no hint of what he was, what he did.
A slab amongst other slabs of concrete,
Staking a rough claim to his last frontier.