Unhaired, turban-headed Cecilia, oxygen tank
in tow, directs me to plant roses she’ll never
see bloom and kisses my dirty grindstone hands.
Listening to the purr, Jim pets his new kitten.
I’ll take it home to raise if. . .when replaces if.
Organs shut down in Sandy faster than breath
and heart can cease. Her mother places an ear
on warm flesh for hours, repeating: “So strong,
such a strong heart; she has such a strong heart,”
until sound quiets my voice reading last rites.
Medusa’s hair adorns tumors; headless
tails poke through Brian’s flesh. Pale carrion
snakes of cancer hiss with de-lifing vigor.
Sans-care, cancer vapors my mind in doubt,
to mask the holy ghost. Archangels and doves
guide me in guilt, vote me varlet to death:
The vulture that surrounds the pearly gate.

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