Menu

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.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Access one piece of artwork every month for free! To experience the full archive, log in or subscribe.

Related Poetry

Some Small Bone

By

Hailey Leithauser

A Man Gone to Time, A Woman Crucified

By

Nicholas Samaras

Poverty

By

Robert Cording

Hope

By

Daniel Donaghy

Pin It on Pinterest