Lisa Ashley
Angling Down

I’ve been angled all day, bent.
Sharp-cornered by the dying
in hospital beds, swathed in tubes and lines,
drips and vents, I see them
flattened, tilting at death.

The nurse intersects with daughter, son, wife,
holds out the hard, black rectangle
that delivers their last, off-kilter words,
sharp declarations of love, keened
out in the hard-lined hall.

She turns back to the bed, listens
for the apex breath that tips
his life from now to after.
She holds his hand.

In the glaring break room
she slants against the wall,
slides down until she meets the floor,
pinned below her grief.

I reach into the broken frame,
take her in my arms,
one brief moment of rest.