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Long Beach, CA

The Strange Truth of Last Hours

Poetry Blog

The Strange Truth of Last Hours

Brandon Cook

The whir and beep of the machines will go on
Transferred to some other room, newly washed and dressed,
They will walk on, mindlessly,
Insentient of their duty,
While the sun, too, keeps shining
And the grass outside the window is postcard perfect

Everything about the noise and the bright light of this day is paradox
Comforting torment
Laborious rest
Natural life prolonged artificially, 
As death stands windswept by the windows

I stood to the side as he squeezed his son’s hand and told him,
“Don’t be angry with God”
I kept a poker face, like the machines beeping, pretending
They aren’t the slow countdown, after which,
They will stretch, wash, take a smoke, and start again

But my breath caught and I almost laughed
Not because it was funny, of course
It’s just that, when everything’s absurd—our longing for life betrayed—
Truth is a cold glass of water poured over hot souls
And the steam is so strange
Through it, there’s some indictment of what we’re holding dear

It indicted me, anyway
And I laughed because it’s so odd and pure and good
That the one dying should so easily let go
While I stand by with fists clenched, beside so many bedsides