Traffic Jam

By Sarah Johnson

You lie helplessly in a bed of white sheets,
inside a sterile room that smells stale.
Your eyes are shut but open intermittently.
A single tear sits at the corner of your right eye.
A large tube that reminds me of corrugated plumbing
protrudes from your mouth and is taped against your ashen cheeks.
Eight bags of liquid hang above grey plastic boxes of red beeping lights,
and I think of them as magic potions from a sorcerer,
a secret elixir, meant only for you.
Another tube juts from your neck that is bloated like a bullfrog,
and I feel guilty for thinking you look like a science fiction character
and not my Dad.
Hours pass and some of the plumbing is removed.
You slowly wake and speak as a child,
“Shhhip,” you say,
I spoon feed you an ice chip.
Your hands are unruly,
reach for the white bandage at the center of your chest.
You let out a deep moan and point to center,
I hold your cold hand,
because it’s all I can do,
and watch the blood drain from your chest,
out of a clear tube into a rain gauge on the floor.