Grandfather lies in a dreaming state while shadows enter the hospital room and shake him awake. He sees his sons as small children. He will not eat. He speaks in his sleep to ghosts and drops his thin jaw. He is tethered down for his own good. At night they sometimes chain his feet to the bed. He is dreaming and his shut eyes move wildly. He occasionally rises in a state of horror, when his mind surfaces. All the voices he hears are forever in the distance. They are all speaking behind his back, looking towards him sadly. The television becomes a fluttering tedious landmark where consciousness begins and the world ends. The wiring he’s attached to spirals backwards and clashes with his alien gestures and moods. He dreams of fragrant rooms. They pass with iron machines down the hallway. He cannot perceive the final curve, and when it will spin him out, so when he returns from the depths, he whispers to the priest to have everyone there.

More attention should be paid to this man who may soon cease to be. He was gigantically strong once. Now one notices his skull. His recognitions and hearing are perfect inside while outside there is the panic and the heavy smothering air of losing touch. He tries to hold on. It’s so much safer back at home. It’s so much easier to slip away. He has a vision of his wife from fifty years ago. They first met at a swimming pool in Jersey City where he was a lifeguard. He said, “That’s the woman I will marry,” She said, “Who me?” with a marine bathing suit on.

X.F. Pine