Borrowing Dead She never looked so fragile, so frail pale beige, spirit like complexion drowned in frame of pasty curtains albino floors & nude walls with imitation Van Goghs. Her limbs, iron coat hangers draped in a burgundy polka-dot apron, chest heaving like dehydration on emergency respirators eyes sealed mute half paralyzed waist down. Momma simply told us you were in deep dreams thinking of Grandpa or Cuba-- i took you for borrowed away. Had only been four months since your release from Thomas General i wore my gray pin-striped church get up that Saturday afternoon after we settled you back in half your memory & speech eroded, consciously--couldn't recall our trips to the park, signature dishes, family or friends'faces hung on walls tucked in heritage albums & noon from night even. Dr. Shortz promised us if strictly following his directions to let you get proper rest & taking those double-doses of chemo prescriptions he issued you'd gain a few solid years back clearing all bacteria eating at your liver which migrated to the left breast then finally a legacy virus snuck into the back door of your heart. A luke day, May 3rd, '91 i blamed cousin Alicia first-- left your in-home care provider nodding off in hibernation dry hung from drinking & chiefin' eight nights a week strong, fetal hugged to the couch like an overdose & you falling from the wool braille recliner chasing a knock at the door, forgetting reasonable capabilities a woman in her mid-sixties with forever cancer & tissue limbs could handle. Pictured you squirming as a roasting worm on noon summer pavement, gasping in convulsions like beached marine life muscles cramping, slugging to answer a message never heard. i was young once too, snotty noised chewing food like cows on cud & couldn't mention death without shuddering in chasms of arctic. Back at Thomas, wasn't no flowers or get well kites outside kinfolk, friends half century in promise paid no visits to brush your rusty dandelion mane, cradle your ginger palms in atonement, kiss your flushed cheeks, tell you it's all Jesus. Last time let us in Critical Care, in your last steps in Autumn when your heart beat on borrowed time, lips moved in murmurs like Baptist tongues. i knew why your health had eroded, blamed the incompetent unsympathetic staff. Figure they must have handled you like some unruly convalescent acting out Hitler's agenda. & not two days following the memorial did our family seams began to unravel. Uncles aunties, brothas sistas wars to possess heirlooms memorabilia, open resentments in devil tongue. & knows if i was to play God would never neglect the sunshine fishing worldly vanities, would duplicate echoes of Spring cause you'd be my Lazarus.
Ariono-jovan Labu is currently an undergraduate student attending San Francisco State University, He considers his format and style to be urban contemporary. Although this is his first publication, he has served on the editorial staffs of three literary magazines and has participated in many writer's workshops and poetry slams at local cafes.
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|Publication:||African American Review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2004|
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