The Struggle to Stay the Same

Hanging Heart 3
By Olivia Somes

Tangerine decorative scarves, nicks of magazines,
in the hospital room, you made everything you:
a poster of George Michael’s torn jeans,
the Dollywood snow globe you picked up
at a yard sale outside a donut shop, next to you,
white specks jumble to the break beat of life support.
You say we’re going to make a party out of all of this,
I can barely feel my knees. I keep smiling along
even when you choke up blood on a noise maker,
as you talk of your sister’s wedding: we danced
to Bon Jovi telling us to live on a pray,
your Uncle slopping some story about
a sledgehammer in Newark and a dead ex-con,
boys wrecked on beer, spitting over the pier.
You refused the best man he smiles like
a dragon, breath like sardines
, he looked alright to me.
That was you, seeing deep into the foil of things.

You knew I would change, you made me promise not to,
the hair went, that was easy you wore wigs anyways,
a pink perm for a rainy day, Cleopatra’s flat black cut,
when your frame made a ghost of you, it was bearable,
costumes you wore like Halloween was once a week,
today I am John Keats, blood flaked on your teeth,
it’s not funny, I laugh. You dressed up like James Dean
one New Year’s Eve, jumping on the bar table
anyone want a joyride, unlit cigarette in your mouth
joking up the death of the young and famous,
you saw me, meek in a crème sweater, a knee long skirt,
you pulled me along in front of you through
Smoke trails, peanut shells, an old lady with a poodle.

I want to be pulled into the front of this,
This show of the way we were, in this room,
us reminiscing over the sand castle war with
your brother when we were ten, the gnome
collection you acquired from random front lawns,
you don’t have arms anymore as you tell a story,
you just barrel along the shave pear of a face,
the bald, bulge wrist bone chumming with us,
the skeleton of you becoming my friend too.
All I want to do is crumble on top of waxed floor,
complain about the smell of the hospital,
get mad over the food, the pain you pretend you’re not in,
talk about the others dying around us, about you.
I just sit here laughing as you struggle not to pass out.

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