Nothing by Mouth
She tapped the tracheal plug
into his neck and spooned cold
spaghetti into his empty mouth.
He choked, spaghetti and plug
scattering. He was almost
3 with a wheelchair so armored
it didn’t fit in the hall of their trailer.
Head strap, neck brace, trunk vest –
all the way down.
Each time he was resuscitated
some other part of him left – accretion of tubes,
decretion of sensibility.
Deaf, blind, then
no response to touch –
did something hurt?
It was like holding a large starfish
draped over your arms.
Under the branches of the pine
the dog steps in his pee,
his feet scratched by ice.
The branches are twined in white
sifting on him. Whenever a bird
stretches a wing through gray
we think straining
but maybe cradling.
I had driven through Columbus,
icicles hanging off the nose
of the city, and I was coughing,
a medieval ticking sound, a cart
and the dog sick, piled
against the window, the fluff
of a long journey, the closed car
smell of last week?
Perhaps I can answer this question
correctly as though I was moored
for this life in Ohio, an iron belt
around my neck, and only able
to reach the dog with one hand.