Deborah Bayer

The campanile across town sounds the canonical hours.
My sleepless all-night vigil ends when dawn begins to break
through the hospital window. My fast is broken when the tray
of cold oatmeal arrives on my bedside table. I remove
the plastic dome. Nothing ends the pain.

I pray for tincture of opium and her synthetic sisters.
At change of shift, for a merciful nurse. She comes,
dispenses two pale tablets, blue eggs in a pleated white
nest. The ice in my plastic pitcher is melted. I drink
the warm water anyway: to a blessed lessening.

A companion no longer needs to watch me.  I won’t
harm myself or others, nor will I wander the halls.
I miss my company, though. The distraction of small talk
used to assuage my grief, attenuate the silence as a salve.
The hospital hushes for the evening.

My comatose roommate’s husband sits with her daily
for an hour. He stays behind the blue-striped curtain where
I can’t see him. At bedtime, hora somnia, I swallow
my last dose with a sedative for sleep.  It won’t work.
The wooden beads of my rosary are slippery and worn.

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