Explaining all of what could happen when
the respirator is removed, a nurse
takes care to mention, “Cases vary,” then
withdraws. Two hospice workers stay. Averse
to tracking vitals on a monitor,
a daughter leaves such to the station just
beyond the curtain. Taught to moisten her
poor mother’s mouth, she dabs a sponge in trust
that meager efforts matter. Soon a son-
in-law arrives and offers comfort to
his wife. The hospice workers go—job done.
A granddaughter appears, as if on cue,
to join those watching bedside. Breath by breath,
life must concede another loss to death.


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