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By Sean Mahoney
Let him know that it is ok
Assure him that you will be ok
the funeral home, the flowers and the hearse
communion can commence, the priestly fee
An APR has been set
the business of dying
the roasting of a large pig
Tell him you are fine and will be fine and just say thank you
Tell him you are dressed in white
And that his passing will be remembered as pure
Morphine at regular intervals under the whitening tongue
Administered by the hospice nurse and once by the student
he is not in any pain
He is not coming back
It is his time and grieving is unique
It needs no explanation
His still extremities begin to chill and purple slightly,
Mottling is the physiological term
His breathing is assisted at this point; he has not been awake
In a day and a half and the last thing he said as though from a deep
chamber, before the sublingual morphine cooed him,
Was ‘this is hard’ to you in soft Ilocano.
Did he mean the transition? Or the fact of all that he cannot say?
He took comfort that his daughters had acquired good men,
that his granddaughter had blossomed into young woman.
His other sons and daughters– in Guam, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines-
do not want to see their father via Skype while he lay dying.
800 for the hearse bearing the body from the house to the funeral home
3000 for the funeral and cremation, another 450 for the urn.
Your eyes have been closed for 2 days and
you can’t see the massing of paperwork.
You would be angry at the inefficiency.
You’ve not eaten since early Thursday morning
The tube leading into your belly will remain empty
Its job is over
The regular medicines will be destroyed or returned
Their work is done
The unused diapers can be returned
The tube food can be returned along with the wheelchair
The pacemaker must be removed too before the cremation
It is mid-afternoon on Saturday and gray. You have told him
You don’t want him to go ever
But you realize too that this will happen
Weep into his clenching palm and thank him
You liked that, rhythm riding over you like heat waves
Even now it makes the corners of your mouth rise
We slept a bunch on Sunday and stirred little
Food and water.
Your granddaughter’s paper on Animal Farm got proofread and finished.
You still took the morphine
You stilled more
In the evening everyone left and returned to their living means
With a final unexpected wisp of breath you let go while your wife used the restroom.
Odd and even. Your sheets, t-shirt, and diaper had been changed in the 30 minutes prior. You were dressed in white and covered under white sheets. A rosary atop your chest added some contrast. A wisp of breath, a puff escaping like a cold sequence, a passcode entered and unlocking doors. It was Monday. 10-10-16. 6:44am. 59 degrees outside. Relative humidity at 82%. Still…
Time has come for your cool body to be taken
Flowers wait, make-up waits.
Wood of your bed and flame of the body kiln bide time
The body movers are here, logistics of the hallway
are calculated and your body strapped onto a gurney
You are taken for preparation, for crossing
You will wait alone until Saturday
You will make peace with other pieces, with stitches of your time: with a Tango and with steel I-beams, with the roads and bridges you built, with the soldiers you saw bayoneting classmates during the 2nd World War, with the Chinese men who came for you and your family when you would not take building and materials bribes while working in Saudi Arabia, with the family dog who was taken and eaten in the Philippines, and yes the Magapit Bridge remains strong for you.
Your youngest daughter has not eaten today. She mentions headache and cramps.
She is focused, distressed in playing with her food. She rubs her temples.
Your oldest daughter has arrived with golden tears
Granddaughter does homework on the dining room table; do you remember that she is the one who found you on the floor, fluids in your mouth.
She studies the anatomy of a cell
Cell composition but not how they work and divide and finally are recycled into this system, which, for you, has finally ceased pulsing
The work of cells continues of course
They have received the instruction to begin with decomposition
We are advised not to look at you being loaded into the hearse through the windows
Something about refraction of spirit so I look into the hollowed ribs of the pig, neatly
picked bones between what is real with scent and what is seen not entirely accurately; opaque pale of a wish list.
What can you show?
Are there ways and means, balances, more roads and bridges? More pigs to roast?