"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mercy Waits

She watches him disappear, only a shadow now...shaking in the pain of late stage cancer. His face so drawn, pinched with the anguish that no amount of morphine can diminish completely. She wets his dry lips and smooths lackluster hair, but there is no love big enough to make him live, bring back pleasure. Why this ending of long drawn out suffering, where Mercy takes a seat at the foot of the bed, and for reason unknown, just waits...and waits...and waits? As much as she wishes him live, she wishes him die, to end the struggle that miracles had passed over and cures had failed. He has no strength to eat and sleep is elusive. His eyes follow her, beg her, glance at Mercy who has turned a blind eye. This is not her husband any longer, it is a disease which has removed him in pieces and stages. Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage done.

She sits with Mercy as he whimpers in a new wash of pain, bones rattling together in an effort to thwart, but muscle has long ago been replaced by despair and he has nothing to fight with. Begging. And she argues with Mercy, pleading his case...like he needs one. She cannot watch him suffer. one. more. day. Cannot. Forcing Mercy's hand to reach the items in her pocket, the items assembled "just in case", with guilt and trepidation keeping their secret, until now. She ends the struggle, takes the life. Mercy shakes it's head, knowing more, seeing farther.

She looks down at her husband and he is beautiful, and he is her man, and he is her everything, and he is dead. And she killed him as sure as the cancer would have...but he begged and it was right. Wasn't it? OH GOD, oh God, what has she done? Bring him back, OH GOD, one last kiss, one more sentence. His pain is gone, but so is his breath, and the warmth that was left in boney hands. OH GOD, SHE KILLED HIM! She cries uncontrollably. This is not something she can undo, and Doubt is standing in the doorway with hands on hips...formidable. And the crying stops, and the dark descends, and the emptiness fills all the hollows with sorrow.

Mercy stands and takes the hand that forced it's own, reaching it back into the pocket that houses the secret. Sure and swift the motions that bring the blood from the one left living, to drain across the one now dead. It is a useless sacrifice...does not revive him, does not relieve her. She will live another day even though she cannot. She will face the family, even though she cannot. She will sit with the consequences and the loss, even though she cannot. And Mercy sits at her feet and waits, and waits, and waits...a pocket full of secret.

(I found out yesterday that a great Uncle with terminal cancer passed away, and his wife had a hand in it. She then tried to take her own life, but is still alive and hospitalized. That's all I know. We were not close due to family divisions (thank you mother), but I did love them once and can understand both sides of this struggle.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lost Soles


The tree is dead of leaves and dry as timber....yet it has a voice more powerful than the living. A ghostly bark that calls for soles in pairs and gets as it demands. Hungry it is ... to reconstitute foliage which once completely shrouded its limbs, longing for a summer that will never come. Who was the first to wander by and hearken to its whisper of insistence? Perhaps the first cannot be traced, but the last...

Fresh marks on the bloody trail where bare or stocking feet have shuffled off. No doubt when the first stone pierced flesh, a backwards glance was cast and realization dawned ugly. So quick and stealth the loss, that it was not even a memory, just recent history. Where does one go when they have given up their sole? Me thinks they wander among us, pretenders who feign freedom in naked appendage, who dip their toes in fountains, and swipe their heels along the grass. We see them hippie free, laughing at the hot constraints of others who are digit shod. But I know better.

for what else have you, but to pose
when there is only a hole
where once a sole?