I’ve been angled all day, bent. Sharp-cornered by the dying in hospital beds, swathed in tubes and lines, drips and vents, I see them flattened, tilting at death’s windmill. The nurse intersects with daughter, son, wife, holds out the hard black rectangle that delivers their last off kilter words, sharp declarations of love, keened out in the hard-lined hall. She turns back to the bed, listens for the apex breath that tips his life from now to after. She holds his hand. In the glaring break room she slants against the wall, slides down until she meets the floor, pinned below her grief. I reach into the broken frame, take her in my arms.
Previously published in Amsterdam Quarterly.
Lisa Ashley, MDiv, is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee and descendent of survivors of the Armenian genocide. She spent eight years companioning and providing safe space as a chaplain for incarcerated youth. Lisa navigates her life and garden with physical limitations and unlimited imagination. Her poems have appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, The Healing Muse, Gyroscope, Last Leaves Literary Review and others. She writes in her log home among the firs on Bainbridge Island, WA, having found her way there from rural New York by way of Montana and Seattle.