The Poisoned Ink Well

Saturday, January 18, 2003

(A work in progress, I hope)

Amanda's house. My Grandmother's house on Bartlett Street in Baton Rouge.

I listened to my grandmother die
In short shallow breaths
Like prayers that couldn’t quite reach
The alveoli of God’s lungs
No exchange seemed to take place
Even her rosary beads
Fell like drops of blood
In crushed Kleenex at her bedside
Her big green oxygen tank
Sat next to her as holy
As Mother Mary Statute
And helped her continue
I never saw a priest or a doctor visit her
But a big smiling bald man came twice a week
With new tubing and a tank
Exchanging our prayers
For handshakes and oxygen
A signed bill
And always an introduction
Every time like the first time
She called me her favorite grandchild
A pat on the head from him
And a whole night in her arms
Made her my patron saint
And the best part
Of my childhood
Was spent heating her soup.