Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Brother Gary

by Michael Friedman

You always earned what you wanted,
owed nothing, in your eyes,
and showed no mercy or patience
for anyone

wasting your time. Your exasperated eyes
rolling up and then down again,
ready to chill the breath from any takers on.

That’s just Gary, Mom would say.
What can I tell you.

When you got sick,
you told Mom, Dad, and Rob
what to expect.
Figured word would get around.

And then you were dying –
flat on your back, stomach tube, IVs, respirator,
only a pencil and a small spiral notepad
for you to scrawl upon.

All of us went in and out
of your hospital room,
to stand as close by your head
as the machines would allow.

Taking turns at the living shivah
to look past the jellyfish bag
floating above your bloated arm.

Mom by your bedside,
you having forgotten
who else was in the room.

Your body no longer absorbing fluid.
Your final breath
swallowed days before.

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