The intern reminds me to sanitize,
so I stick my hand under the machine, and foam
drips out. Fingers meet palms, then part.
The ethanol slaughters strains of bacteria,
which will reclaim my hands in a few minutes more.

I'm led behind sliding glass and around a curtain.
Tubes ensnare her. Machines are collected around,
solemnly standing still.


I have
Five minutes. That's all.
Make it through five minutes.


There's this feeling that nudges me,
behind my shock. Gratitude?
How best to describe the alien being that has entered my form claiming
to be one of my emotions?
How best to reassure her when this woman, cut up, is so loosely wrapped in sheets?
Even if told it was for the best, I would still disbelieve what I saw before me.
One morning brought this all to occur.
One morning, now a dented car and four surgeries—
Metal plates, scalpels, gauze, electrodes, neck braces, lasers.
More, there's more, of course.
But I'm too tired to reduce it all to a list.


Years upon years, and I finally am brought to face with this truth.
But I'm left with some form of gratitude
that she is here rather than laying somewhere else.


I touch her arm, not sure of what to do.
We talk, and I am led away
too soon.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community


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