September 01, 1996
|A flag at half-mast, tissues piled|
in the OR lounge, the hallway gasps:
What were his risk factors?
No one dared say it out loud,
how we tallied our own frailties,
clear for an instant,
like skywriting before a wind.
|On the day he could not know
would be his last, he traced healing scars
with eye and fingertip, cut new wounds
with clean hands, alive
with the snap of latex gloves,
the precise steel scalpel and rongeur.
Between cases, he confided in me:
a wish to learn piano, an instrument
where the choices are black and white.
And he laughed as he ate a peach,
the sugary juice glistening
on his hand, his tongue
tasting each scrubbed finger.
I don't know who he touched
between the pleasures of a peach
and the call to 9-1-1,
what music he heard as he waited.
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