In Hilo Hospital Poem By Joan Swift
Mr. Yamaguchi is washing his wife’s yukata.
I hear the water gushing from the faucet
on the other side of the hospital wall.
He washes and rinses then rinses again
to be sure all scum is gone.
Then the water gurgles down the drainpipe.
Each night he washes. I listen from behind
the metal patch over my right eye
which sees nothing, my ears
just beginning to hear again
after the air bag’s explosion.
Mr. Yamaguchi sleeps all night
on the hospital floor beside his wife’s dying.
Because the nurses tell me this,
I know when I hear the tap water flow
his tears mix in the slosh. He scrubs
his own underwear too. Percocet
does not drown the sound of his shirtsleeves’
tangle or the coming of morning,
when he must once more rise to greet her
with cheer, kiss her brow, gather
the dark blue and white of her favorite garment
to cover her shoulders, begin cooking.
I smell the pungence of his pure
attention. I hear the feet of the sun climbing.
Did I say that I cannot see?
I would like to see him washing her yukata.
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