White Lead

The last time we spoke
you were reclining in a sanitary bed,
surrounded by the baby white
wires and curtains made of lead.
You were across from me,
your sagacious eyes casting
shadows,
your breath drawing little fine lines
in the misty haze of your slumber.
I didn’t know you.
Yet, I did, like the way
people often do when they are
thrust headlong into a maelstrom
of pumping blood and
aerobic lightning.
Were we once friends, you and I,
drifting along a banded causeway?
For some reason I remember you there
and not in that bed.
I remember a newfound joy in company.
I remember a smile full of teeth
that reflected the memories of
coffees in cafes,
conversations about nations,
picks and hammers
and crowded buses.
There were moments in
your laugh lines
where I could have sworn I became
a part of you.
Perhaps I have always been a part of you.
Perhaps, though, I am thinking you another.
Your hands, soft and translucent,
used to hard labor,
rest on your chest,
pulling your breath up and out.
How was it that a man,
built like yourself,
suddenly becomes a character from a department
store window?
You lived your life well,
full of vegetables and scotch,
filled with joy and reason,
repeatedly digging the seasons
and applying generously to the light
at the end of the week.
But, here you are,
fragile,
constantly wobbling on the brink
of whole and shattered.
Perhaps, I am referring to myself.

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