The Pen

by Ginger Graziano

At my son’s hospital room, a dim glow
backlights him so he floats out of the shadows.
He’s still awake at ten pm, sitting up in bed,
paper and pen spread on the crumpled covers.

The bed sinks under my weight till we’re
at eye level. What are the papers?
His eyes search mine. The doctor brought them.
What should I do? I draw my breath in.

Rummage for answers. None come. The pen
waits, as if our deepest feelings could change
the outcome, as if the papers could fly out
the window to join the falling leaves.

Traffic’s distant honk, his beeping heart monitor.
His hands on the white sheet outline his legs
and feet. I look at his bald head, swollen
scrunched up face, his trusting eyes.

He held me when my father died, no words,
just his comforting arms, and I thought,
how blessed I am to have mothered this loving
soul, never thinking this was our future.

Jeremy, I don’t know what’s on the other side,
but I’d want to either live or die, not be lost
in a coma. We both feel your grandpa close now.
Ma, he’s like a warm blanket cocooning me.

He pauses to take this in, picks up the pen
and in his shaky handwriting, signs the order
not to resuscitate.

Ginger Graziano, originally from New York City, is an author, painter, and graphic designer living in Asheville, North Carolina, where she receives inspiration from the mountain beauty. Her poems have been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Kakalak, Sky Island Journal, and The Great Smokies Review, among others. Her memoir, See, There He Is, was published in 2015.