Holly Karapetkova

He arrives on the gurney with little to lose
bones jutting through skin, everything bent,
and the mud still wet in the soles of his shoes.

The room fills, nurses and PAs bruise
his flesh with tubes, surgeons and residents
poke into the gurney with little to lose

but an 80-year old body unable to choose—
what made him think he could change the vents
on his roof, tracking all over with mud in his shoes?

It follows him into the CAT scan where the news
comes in like bits of shattered glass, hints
that we don’t have much time to lose.

The surgeon jokes with the attending, the truce
they’ve made with death, here always present,
mud we can’t stomp from the soles of our shoes.

The head lifts, fingers grope for clues,
the family arrives, hopes for some moments:
each hour he gains is one we lose,
the mud still wet in the soles of our shoes.