One Breath


The moon skidded and stopped
in the sky, grazing the stars on its journey.
An old and lonely widow holds
her blankets tightly. Her hospital door is closed
as she lies in her drafty room
and struggles to take short breaths.

Wind rushes through the cracked window in cold breaths.
The old woman stopped
to listen to the soft noises, ticktock, swish-swish, in the room
singing in the dark.
It reminded her of her childhood, closed
secrets, memorable games, parents on hold.

She’s put death on hold
for too long and she no longer can take normal breaths.
Children have Death’s door closed
and their worries stopped
at the worst of being alone in the dark
in a large and empty room.

The world has no room
for a weak, silent woman. She holds
death inches from her heart but the dark
disallows her to see it. One breath
away from the eternal sleep that stopped
her childhood. She was just that close.

The woman’s blankets enclosed
her as she shivered in the hospital room.
Her weak muscles stopped
her from twisting and turning in her sleep. To hold
the kind of strength she desired was as unlikely as firebreath
Illuminating her room in the darker than dark.

Her idea of what death was like was dark
and she dreamed of having death foreclosed.
But she could hear her breath
shortening, her fingers freezing, the room
spinning. In her hands, a family picture she holds
and in a flicker of a lightswitch, her heart
stopped.

The lingering dark remained in the room.
Her eyes are vacant, not closed.
She lies unnoticed until the dark that holds
her turns light. She knows someone has found her by now, but time
stopped.

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