This is how you resonate: heart
pixelated grey and stilled
as your insides
swirl beneath your compromised ribs.
Behind the glass I watch them
syringe dye into your writing arm
angle it above your head
slide you through the machine
whose clack clack clack hammers my ear
—we’d slowed down
forgotten the winter AIDS grew out your beard,
had you talking in a concussive pitch.
I wheeled you out of Mass General
and we shivered by the ambulance bay
waiting on your father’s car
to cough its way out of the garage.
That January I could just fumble out of my coat
smooth it across your thighs and chest
speak to you through chattering teeth
but right now I’m as useless as a mouthful of exhaust
a squinting detective in another language
questioning every suspect mass.
Here the spleen
the lady says
there the kidneys.
Still, it’s your left lung that I’ve come for
the one answer I can’t shake out of her.
Once, camped out at the hospital they could get you to in time
I sat as you swam in & out of morphine
took your phone calls
and like a lover
walked you to the bathroom—
your ribs too many to count
I never needed a brave face because I’d forgotten I had a face
slumped in the elevator going down
forehead resting on my own ashen reflection.
This morning I walked you
out of Cooley Dickinson,
across the parking lot,
a thick white bandage taped to your arm.
Your scan sent out to be translated
and then translated back to you.
Then you’ll call.
Bumping home now,
and the road becomes
the vertebrae of you—
mile markers in a world that can’t contain anything,
bone after bone going everywhere.