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Borrowing Dead.

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
 to possess heirlooms
 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.
COPYRIGHT 2004 African American Review
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Labu, Ariono-jovan
Publication:African American Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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