Home Care by Richard Rubin

Home Care

With only the press of a button
the pillows rise on a gentle slope, his eyes on mine.
The window is open a crack, the way he likes,
light and breeze dimple the gauzy curtains.
His lips move on the moistened cloth,
but he does not speak.

Sun and shadow gather in the twisted sheets,
tissues lie in scraps on the pushed-back tray,
the straw askew, bent like a reed in shallow water.
There are no sounds—
no beeps, no clicks, no compressions of air.
His chest moves so slowly that I lose count.

I will go home for the afternoon,
thumb through the mail and water my plants.
His violet is well beyond saving,
its arms parched and flattened on the sill.
He is still, but restless in his eyes.
I cannot tell if he is remembering.

I am speaking now
just above a whisper, just below his ear
about how it is okay to go—
an odd thing to say, I suppose, but maybe not.
He tries to clear his throat
and I wait for an answer, just in case.


Editor’s Comments and Image Credits: Wilted violets [pngimages] somewhat muted are superimposed on an empty hospital bed [pinterest].

Richard Rubin
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