Litany

— published by Prairie Schooner

In the grave cave of his face, 
Heart failure, the thing 
that will stop him from waking up, 
from doing that radio show interview. 
Study his shirt. Study the 
places it fits uncomfortably. 
Tell yourself this is not how 
the body rejects the heart
and says you will be alone when you die.
Tell yourself heart failure is not a synonym
for alone. In the grave cave of his face,
regret that turns he cannot 
turn into an angel. Study the places 
his body does not grow into wings.
Study his outline for absence of feathers.
On the street corner near the hospital 
near where he will be buried, always 
something dark: a fist-broken beer bottle.
Always what someone else wants 
you to write but never what you want
to write never what you want to write.
Listen. Somewhere, a small child
looks for you in the dark. She thinks 
that the man is varying his gait because
he walks with a walker and she thinks 
that the man is holding in a very big 
secret. The man wants the girl to know 
that he is never going to Heaven and 
that the man is walking crazy because 
he had a hip replacement and the man 
wants the girl to know that nothing 
is going to ever be okay again.

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