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Volume 3, Issue 2
Summer 2007:

Helen Hutchinson

Michael Rowe

Cell 2 Soul. 2007 Summer; 3(2):a7

I

Father you had three months to live
and I came to say goodnight.
You sighed in bed as Demerol settled in,
your hand, a bark green tan, worried
the white feathers of your hair.
A glance at burgundy curtains waived fifty years
and Helen Hutchinson in her red velvet dress
at the church social walked up to the boy
with the wavy black hair who pitched the no hitter
and you wanted to be for her the one
sure thing in a savage world.

Wondering at the mystery of her movements
at the sound of a telephone's ring,
the pulling on of nylons,
the eating of an orange —
all, all must be transcendent things for her.

But you sat her down at a stained glass window seat
and set your arm, so, and told her it couldn't be,
that there was another. You almost forgot her
but one day in wartime she walked down the aisle
of the Boeing plant and poled you on the line.
Talking with her into middle night when summer air
squats on the windowsill but won't come in,
I have your resolve to thank for this breath.

II

Everything inches out of reach.
Peace we crown the eager dying with
gives the slip like, soon, silky flesh
melting off bones under Hospice sheets
tossed with memory hair taste touch name.

The doctor kneeled at your side and took both your hands
and said cancer had flushed you at point blank range
but you were Leo Gagney from Providence,
a clothes buyer you'd done business with
twenty years before. Besides, you had to go home
to be with your wife, take care of the shrubs,
finish the carved geese you'd rough-cut
jerking marionette-like downstairs
to your basement shop two days before your last ride
to hospital Providence Hospice oblivion.

It's over now. No more radiation sick,
no more sugar needle in cotton candy flesh
and no more pain to make light of.
You won't see Helen Hutchinson walk down
the airplane factory aisle of your memory again
or see her grope for teeth and wig and glasses.

At the end no hand could stay the chill
blue worms crawling up your fingertips
and I could have held you in my arms
like my little boy, though you no longer
looked liked anyone I knew.

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