Fluid and Bone

She fought for every breath, her daughter said.
So did my wife in her hospice bed,
So did I, yesterday, alone in the kitchen,
My throat narrowing between coughs
Like a curtain closing at play’s end
Then opening again,

Then a note from a friend,
A valve of his heart needs replacing.
It will be all right, I said, not knowing if it would.
It sucks, he said. These leaky sacks of fluid and bone,
How do they stay upright, stay hopeful for so long,
Calculate the weight of a star, make children laugh
By hearing their dog, then howling along?

(First published in Backchannels Poetry Edition, Spring 2023. Thanks to the editors.)

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