Deathbed With Helium - Poem by Patti Masterman
Sucked the soul out of my mother:
Floating balloon of get well wishes,
Tied to her bed rail.
Above her, all night, it hovered
The other, mute witness, to her struggle
(Entirely to me now, belongs the tale)
(I was the intimate stranger-
A thousand years, was it? I watched)
Unsure, was this breath to be the last?
Afraid to leave, sensing danger.
Avoiding at least, the blank stare of death
But not the fully audible, last fearsome gasps.
The brain, fulfilling its last request-
Dutifully tried, to jump-start the heart,
With freshly oxygenating breaths,
Delivered in loud bursts to the chest-
(No one told me how this came about)
The body's last effort, to avoid death.
(I taxed my own brain, in turn to recall
Omens and portents that must have been missed)
They had prayed over her bed the night before
(I was accidentally absent, being out in the hall)
When leaving her room and newly shadowed self
I refused, ever again, to go back through that door.
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