Last Meal

by Rene Mullen


He lays in a hospital bed. A room identical to each one 
my stuttering chest counts down hallway after hall-
way, aromatic beeps and sound stench
sterilization between my neck hairs, cradled in my arms 

a pair of clean pants, a shirt, underwear, extra warm socks, 
I know his feet go icy code blue when he can’t move around

folded burial shroud 
for the not yet
living not yet
coughing not yet

digging through shoe boxes for a picture for the coming
obituary not yet

two people in scrubs blur by

could it be
for him not yet
which room 
is his not yet

doctor’s assistants and floor nurses 
talk of time, not much
choice for dinner, call loved ones
can’t come in
nows, dusting bones, did everythings, what 
of last year’s doctor’s assistants it’s just
soreness, what of five years ago insurance doesn’t 

cover, Room 314. 
I can’t

remember if I’m on the right floor
which floor is this,  I ask 
the face behind the counter—tell me 
this isn’t the right room—it is.

I stop. I can’t.
I’m hungry 
and angry 
for letting 
my body 

while his eats his insides out.

A call from my mother The only nice picture of your grandfather
stuck to a faded receipt, now it’s ruined, she cries over the torn
image before her father or the hospital bills or the cancer 
he’s been feeding or that nobody has room for dessert.

Legs won’t yet
heart can’t yet
I don’t want this
not yet. 



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