Last night at Moon News Bookstore I read two poems and a song. Here is one of the poems:
March 4, 2006
I am in bed around midnight when the doctor
calls. She says my brother
is in the emergency room with high blood
sugar, dehydration, a possible stroke.
She wants guidelines.
My brother is sixty-four years old.
He has dementia.
He cannot feed himself or control
his bodily functions or, most days, talk.
Or even smile.
He lights up when he sees me -
you can sense it in his eyes.
As a child I chased
after him on a tricycle.
He taught me baseball,
rebellion, girls. Taught me to drive
our old Studebaker. Sent me
letters from California until
at last I followed, too.
Now he leads
on this new path.
"No heroic measures. Do not resuscitate."
“Okay,” the doctor says, "what about a feeding tube?"
When the heart stops, it is as if the
body has decided to die.
But if the body cannot swallow?
He slowly starves.
To the black bedroom a soft light comes
through the window from somewhere.
Rain is dripping.
Dogs are sleeping on the floor -
one with a gentle snore.
I am naked under flannel sheets.
My wife, head propped on hand, lies on her side, watching.
In that quiet night with a phone to my ear
I am an incompetent god,
but the only one on call.