by Barry Grass
Patches of skin walk in sagged and browned. Patches of skin like ruins of skin on skin. Some skin showing where hair once was. Mostly ruined skin showing where a person once was. No. Always a person. Never forget their humanity. Never call them desperate. Always notice their desperation. There are the tests, always, the tubes & diastolic numbers & cuffs & pumps. There is the paperwork, always, the photocopies & emergency contacts & “how long?”s & “where at?”s. There is the hatred, never, but down there somewhere, near memories of fathers, near feelings of abandonment. There is the conflict.
Always. Cover the skin. Throw sheets on the ruins and flush out the grime. Fight the protests. Check the purse, the pant leg. Take the knife, the rock. Wear gloves, always, but never do; gloves create distance. Desire distance, always. Get close in spite of desire, always. Take blood pressures. Talk to them until sleeping. Look at that skin.