Limbo with Baklava

Limbo with Baklava
Virginia Shreve

No 44-year-old man’s feet
should be so pink and tender
and vulnerable
curled like something unformed
newly born
little fishes
little beans

The ventilator’s click and clack
try to persuade of life and breath
and almost humanity, or nearly.
Mechanical thrust, inhale;
suck of exhale

His lungs are ghosts
his heart a reptile’s, three
chambered and perforated.
How did it get to this, friends
ask, hoping for a promise of
personal safety

A soulful atheist
held by Hail Marys
and the fierce
feral prayers
of Sunday School 7 year olds.
What does he owe?

His wife calls him Rasputin, herself
a cockroach
who endures anything,
unlovely, despised, insistent
on life, on will
on the thin wire of breath

She doesn’t believe in angels
bribes ICU nurses
with Godiva chocolates and homemade baklava.
Even non-believers
make offerings to the gods

Will he remain forever
unwilling prey of a spider web of lines,
pics, tubes
a moist mummy dreaming
of Switzerland
and the cool smooth hounds of memory?
If he saves the hounds, will he awaken
or die?

His wife smokes
in the shunned corner outside the hospital
bundled against the swarm of snow,
Arctic locusts
Icy fog swallows her forward

and her backward

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