For Two


I am steaming tamales and stirring two cans of refried beans on the stove

with a metal spoon I probably shouldn’t be using,

this is a nonstick saucepan after all,

but you are in the hospital right now

and quite honestly my mind is not focused on keeping cookware pristine.


I am stirring these nasty, mushy, delicious refried beans;

and they look like they are breathing

bubbling up and down with the heat

desperately gasping for air.

I know you breathe like these beans are trying to,

chest heaving,

back arching.


Your lungs are clogged with congealed blood and fiberglass.

Paramedics forced life into you with CPR and epinephrine,

breathed for you with BVM’s and canister oxygen,

they keep you clinging to life with morphine

sending blurry numbing chains to bind you here.


You are crisscrossed with stitches from when your

body met glass creating a tinkling spider web,

bruises blooming across your skin

a parody of silk roses on highway crosses

broken bones and twisted sinew mirroring

contorted auto metal scattered across the freeway.


I cannot stay with you.

Antiseptic burning my nose,

fluorescent lights casting waxy pallor on patch sewn skin and casts.


The doctors tell me there is no point in staying.

You are in a coma.


The likelihood of you surviving is little to none.

You are artificial now.

Forced to breathe like the beans I am stirring.


You were hit driving home from a late shift at work,

pulling overtime to afford Christmas presents.

You weren’t meant to be out that late.

Early Saturday morning

receiving a rehearsed hospital call

rushing into the ICU in my pajamas.


Scripted condolences pouring from tragedy numbed mouths.

I knew when I first saw you laying there that you wouldn’t be waking up

You were hit by a single father who had just lost custody of his children.


Blood Alcohol level twice the legal limit,

now they say it is up to me:

my decision to pull the plug.


I will never hear your tobacco roughened laugh again.

Never again feel stubble scratching on my cheek when we hug,

or smell your aftershave when we are riding in the car.

Instead I am making New Mexican food:


A tribute to the state with the highest DWI rate,

a state full of tragedy broken families,

of alcohol sodden gravestones

of roadside white crosses with plastic flowers

reminders of every twisted and shattered vehicle

of broken bodies strewn across freeways.


The driver who crashed into you died instantly,

and I am left with tamales and refried beans for two.

I stare at these beans as they struggle to breathe

and I turn off the stove.

I did not want to be there when they shut off life support.


Your death is just another story on KRQE

too easy to flip past on your remote

Driven past every day by a state that will not sober up.


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