Going into Surgery

The nurse inserts a needle under my skin
and I allow IV fluid into me. They warmed it.
Taped tubes fast to my bony arm.
He squeezes my hand to say, you will be okay.
I wrote my will at home, just in case.
Machines bleep and I sigh. Mostly it is quiet,
this early in the morning on the ward.
We snap a picture of me looking bleak.
Nurse returns, I am leaving now for the OR
in a squeaking gurney. She allows one last kiss.
Nurse and I chat as the ceiling slides past.
It’s just like sleeping, she says. I tell her
I haven’t slept well in a week; I might nod
into the next needle. You’ll feel it soon.
I wait for a rest and a dream.


When Grandparents Die

You don’t think much about phone calls
until it’s your mom’s voice relaying
something about a heart attack and
that awful phrase “make it through the night”
and a one-way flight to faraway elsewhere.

You don’t think much about hospitals
until your grandma is lying in one
bloated, face inflated from the IV
flooding her full of salt. Hold hands,
play hangman and pray she remembers words.

You don’t think much about cancer
until it is extracted with a scalpel
from your dad’s neck, ’til your family owns it
and cancer causes grandpa to lose his speech,
scaring you as a child as he hacks blood.

Now you think constantly about family,
of picture books and pencil sets, vacation,
hugs and lozenges and lightning bugs,
libraries, letters, turtle figurines, a pin
collection, catnaps, apples and cobbler,
of tears and memories and summer strolls.