The Night Watch

The thrum and sigh of the oxygen machine
Sets a basal rhythm to the night
As she stirs, restive, then settles,
Her skin drapes like sheer cloth.
The Do-Not-Resuscitate order,
Carved in stone and filed in triplicate,
Weighs less at midnight
As the woman down the hall
Shrieks at intervals,
The cry of a rare bird...
First loud, then descending,
As if in flight...
Stark counterpoint
To the thrum and sigh
And the sibilant whispers
Of those who keep
The night watch.

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