An Examination of Mortality
we were laughing at that meme,
“Russia gonna find out why
the U.S. doesn’t have
all those fighter jets lined up on the tarmac.
But that was before we found out about the cancer
silently sequestered inside you.
And all this time,
you were supposed to be bulletproof,
a reincarnated deity of musical anthems
all in the right key.
“That’s no way to live anyway,” you say as you point to a bald man with a blank
face in a photo that stares back at us.
Oh, his empty eyes…
I look into them, searching for an answer.
“Ninety-seven percent failure rate, those drugs, you know, chemo crap,” you say to me.
I know we are all dying, every day, polishing off another year even as we beg them to stay.
But still, the cumulus clouds form above us like marshmallow promises.
Somewhere in the history of cytoplasm, bad cells rebelled into mutiny.
Way after your years of football fame, a touchdown hero, strength personified.
“What about when the pain comes?” I ask.
“Self-medication, been done for years,” you retort.
“We are Mexico’s biggest market, you know.”
Soon perhaps, this gut-punch will become bearable between the smell of medicine and vodka, the strains of organ music weighing in.
And I curse the plight of the poor and weaker, from sickness and in health, we trudge a downward spiral.
Then I think of unforgettable moments,
the way you ran that ball through the cool autumn night, half-slice moon in the sky,
your grandmother handing a wriggling, four-year-old Juicy Fruit gum in church,
the sound of my mother’s breath as she drifted into ghost-plagued sleep.
My fingers stroking your hair even as you slip away before me
morphing into air.