in the silence the young indian orderly danaught

shaves you, changes your blood-stained sheets.  A blonde towel
is tucked up under your chin to support your jaw.  This is for your wife
who will sit with you by the crimson lampshade—one hand over the other.
In her frayed cardigan sweater, in her gray corduroy pants, she kisses

you on the brow when she comes in, then stands awhile
over your bedrail looking into your far eyes that no longer recognize,
no longer want anything to do with this brown world.
Death takes our breath away; endless.  Without cause.

Incredible the way the dead demonstrate how powerful they are,
their future contained within an expressionless brow,
superior even to the wildest sorrow.  To laying on of hands, to libations.
Forget them. Forget this moment in desperate November, one person

speaking to another.  What brought the two of you to this moment
is what counts.  Carry a candle to the cold balcony and watch the sputtering
flame go out, into the windlessness that includes the evening star.

Copyright © 2005 by Dennis Sampson. From For My Father Falling Asleep at St. Mary's Hospital. Reprinted with permission of Milkweed Editions.