This story is too hideous to tell.
But simple weight of hearing it
has forced this page to fill itself.
Every limb and every breath;
every kiss and every move;
every gesture, every stand.
It will bleed on pillowcases â€“
staining all you own and have.
Judy was shot in the neck and paralyzed
by a man on a private rage.
When she was taken to the ER,
they determined that she would lose
the use of all her limbs,
feel nothing but her nose
and her tongue and the
cruel hair of fate in her eyes.
There were two horrific scenes
that Autumn night â€“
and the doctors accidentally saved her,
thinking she was the one
who would come back to earth
in the semblance of whole.
They’d never break their rigid rules
to rectify this cruel mistake.
Her family has abandoned her.
They cannot face infected tombs.
Penniless. At the mercy of the State.
Treated as an irritating rat in a cage,
Judy is prey to doctors’ whims.
On Morphine, oxygen, Demerol,
Valium, dialysis. IVs are the only
shoestrings in her life at 42.
Drugs the only piano keys
she has at all to render
bursts of passing comfort.
As one should understand,
she hates the aides, lashes out
at them like lucky ballerinas
who own the stage of hope,
but do not have the grace to share.
Her bed sores have gone untreated
for more than a year,
because doctors hate
to come to her home.
They have grown from
the size of silver dollars
to chasms in a canyon’s tread â€“
so deep, so deep her backbone shows.
She has no money;
the wolves of doom have eaten her
and medicine just walks away;
ce n’est pas mon probleme;
the case they plead, oblivion.
She begs for Carrie to pull the plug
and let her die, but a nurse
cannot exercise such mercy
without going to jail,
losing her job and family.
There is no laughter.
There is no poise.
She hurls bitter obscenities
like Frisbees over summer lawns.
And here we sit licking life.
Doing nothing to stop
this horrible wreck.
The cemetery slab
of a hospital bed is
a cruel way to spend a life,
but we are living roped and tied
to quite a set of shameless rules.
Ones we wrote ourselves, of course.
I pray we’re throwing up by now
and cracking knees like Christmas nuts
on absolution’s choir pews.