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The glass fogged over from outside—
the view how many stories down
to the courtyard where the purple flags

of irises burn through the rain.
There are bedrolls neatly stashed beneath
chairs, black cylindrical ashtrays, pots

of ficus, styrofoam coffee cups;
there are payphones on one wall. Some people
from cities, some people from farms—

but with close resemblances. The double
doors into the ward itself
admit the loved ones only. Here

is the mortal hush, unconsciousness,
and the hiss of respirators. Here
is the body patiently at sea

in its devotion to a mind
somewhere, one feels, somewhere, one feels,
but where? Here is the day which is

not day, the hours of a night which is
not night. Here is the choice which is
no choice, and here is the look in my sister’s

eye. Here is the lion of
his will not letting go until,
at last, by increments, it does.

And here is the interim—as one
by one, my brothers and sister slip
away to make their calls . . . Without

really deciding to, I bend
down toward the untouched left side of
his brow. At first, I can’t quite reach,

so I roll aside the IV, find
the lever for the safety rail,
which swivels out of the way . . . No need

to put things back, I think, as I gently
touch my father’s wrist. And here,
at the end of everything, is the kiss.