Death Stares Me in the Face

Dad struggles: his chest rising and falling, inhaling and exhaling,
Fighting since 4 p.m. yesterday, almost rhythmically flailing,
18 hours off the respirator, he has fought, struggled, and heaved.
They said he would quickly pass painlessly; they can’t be believed.
Pain unrelieved by a morphine drip, Mother’s eyes speak to me.
They said that hospice patients toward the end feel little pain,
That even with heroic measures, she will have nothing to gain.
They can’t be believed, or else fear’s stench they misconceive.
Looking death in the face, everyone blinks, yet wants to believe.

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