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edward palmquist

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I’m here

2010

Your eyes are disquieting
cold and unaware
as you slowly slip away.
I’m here beside you
sitting on a cheap foldaway chair
stained and yellowed foam cushioning
visible only in parts where the green leather
has cracked and chipped away.
Your lips are in a similar state.
Earlier a nurse had instructed me
to moisten your mouth
with a small pink sponge
at the end of a small plastic stick.
When I first saw it
I recalled an identical device
I had been given daily at preschool
with which I was supposed to
practice brushing my teeth.
I can still recall the sweet taste
of the fluid it was soaked with.
Though yours holds only water
I can only imagine how sweet it must taste
on your parched tongue.
As I brush it against your lips
worn from a lifetime’s smiles and frowns,
your eyes light up like a baby nursing.
By now I’ve gotten used to the
semitransparent tubes which carry your urine
to a plastic pouch at the end of the bed.
The dark color still bothers me,
but that too is slowly seeming normal.

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