Without the Wind, 10/06/1999

The day before he died he looked like he weighed
a lot more than he did without the wind.
Just like that, he had become the stolid,
fifty-three-year-old mummy man.

Parchment thin layer of gray leather lay across his insides,
sinking in the cavities, covering the craters,
just bumps of bones; the edge of the chin fell off sharply
to the plane before his mountainous Adam’s apple.

Shoulders, chest, pelvis, feet created a contour map
under the rumpled, white sheet.
I trekked through the wilderness while
staring at the stillness.

He looked so light when
I saw him without the wind.
I thought a breeze
could blow him off the bed.

I turned to his red faced widow
filling the chair, flowing over.
I held her hand, felt the blood pulsing,
heard the rapid breathing, saw the tears running.

She opened her mouth,
drank the tears, ran her tongue
along her upper lip, smacked
and swallowed hard.

Her palm was warm, soft, sweaty.
She looked at him a long time.
Her hand trembled. She said,
“He looks thinner without the wind.”

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