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Poetry

An old man was dying in the hospital,
—-my friend the doctor told me.

He was eighty-nine, his whole life a tailor in a shop
—-below the room where he was born.

He had no one, so a kind aide from Ghana
—-sat with him, one hand in his

the other holding her sandwich. The waves
—-on the monitor slowed. His heart

was a small red boat on the long tide
—-going out. At the end he opened

his eyes. Cool air, Cool air, he said, and because it
—-was the twelfth floor, the windows sealed,

the aide leans over and exhales softly on the top of
—-his head, to ruffle his hair a bit,

and they stay like that for a few minutes until
—-he dies, his face turned to the breeze.

That was a long time ago. My friend is gone;
—-the hospital’s become a vacant lot.

Some nights I wake with those words in my ear,
—-unsure if they’re the plea of the old Jew

or the answering breath of the African woman,
—-or the beautiful lie that binds them,

like a dart and a seam; the cold clarity of glass
—-and the wide blue draft beyond.


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