Recovery Room

And in this cold chrome moment
the ventricular beeping fades fluorescent
and you turn into the kind of husband
who would leave me.
Even Ovid couldn’t have done it better –
you, now skeletal in saggy gown
groping groggy through waning anesthesia
tongue stumbling through a slush of words
asking the doctor what it all means.
And I, scratching on a memo pad
writing down words like disease progression,
surgical intervention, prognosis,
capturing them with my pen
as though stabbing flying monkeys.

And I’m scribbling away because I don’t have
a loom to warp with yarn
like Penelope must have done
as she watched Odysseus sail
into the distance.
I carve nervous cuneiform,
gouge out a different myth,
a story where I’m not watching
the beginning of your death,
where you’re not falling away
into the distance,
into the depths of that place where
part of us believes we’ll never go.

The room shrinks tight as the doctor talks
and I keep writing those words
to keep them from becoming a curse
and I won’t look at you,
even just to make sure you’re still here,
for fear, as Orpheus well knows,
everything will be lost forever.