the long goodnight

imagine a hospital cart
wheeled into a room
cold, antiseptic,
gleaming steel machines
presiding impersonally
over the array of wheels
and dials and vials ordinary
to an operating theatre.
imagine the cart wheels
braked into place, a last
warm blanket spread
on the bed while snatches
of commonplace conversation
drift on the air. the kids were
late getting up this morning …
so i told him how i liked
my steak and … no thanks, i’ve 
got a date after work tonight.
imagine a tall, thin anesthetist
with a long, thin needle
and imagine yourself the patient
lying cold beneath the covers
as his long fingers try to find
a cooperative vein.
i’m going to put this mask
over your mouth, he says —
this is your part to play now —
and i want you
to take a few deep breaths.
the doctors and the nurses
still aren’t paying much attention,
chatting as if this kind of thing
goes on every day.
breathe in
nothing is happening … breathe in
oh, what if it doesn’t work? …
breathe in … what will they do
if it doesn’t —


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Written for Writer’s Digest’s November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Day Two: A darkest hour poem