–oh, I'm so sorry

oh, I’m so sorry

It’s not like that, you see,

because when you traditionally think of people dying,

(especially the old, especially the sick)

what comes to mind is the mix of cold and warm, sanitation and worry that is a hospital

that is shiny tiled floors,

that is someone, in a bed, plastic tubes and blankets around them.


You don’t think of a restaurant,

you don’t think of the place your grandfather takes you for your mother’s birthday,

you don’t think of warm green carpeting, swing music, 1920s style posters,

waitresses looking amongst each other, shocked

someone yelling, “I know the heimlich, I know the heimlich

someone putting a hand on your shoulder and saying “is that your grandfather

and all you can do is choke at them and run into the bathroom


In the middle of the floor, with tables pushed to the side,

there are four medical technicians and a machine that punches into his chest.


We waited for ten minutes in the parking lot while the ambulance got out of our way.

I did not go to the hospital.


Handling it badly, they said, but I can't not

Because the first thing I thought was not Oh God

(maybe I did in the back of my mind where I don't know if I'm thinking anything)

the first thing I thought was

I have to call work they need to know why I'm not there

and the second thing I thought was

I wish I was religious


I did not go anywhere for the next two months

Summertime bled away


Constant reminders, then, with he could have lived to see me graduate

with –we’re playing Symphonie Fantastique for orchestra    he loved Berlioz

until our lawsuit, the case we’re trying in high school mock trial,

is a man dying of a drug overdose,

and choking to death on the floor in front of everyone at a party

lips turning blue and technicians unable to do anything


and all I can think is that this will never leave

This poem is about: 
My family


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