Death Treads Softly

Death treads softly
past the nurse
reading at her desk.

When morning comes,
another bed is empty.

Winter is long,
the old folks
let go one by one.

We strip their sheets
and scrub the floors,
send their bundles
to the laundry.

But the ones who live
are hungry.

They tap their canes,
caress their lumpy chins.

Ed the teacher has three shirts,
and all of them are blue.

Margaret the lawyer�s wife
smells like crushed
dry marigolds.

Listen to the waves
slap against their boat,
a beautiful day
with no one steering.

Listen to them chew.

They are talking about
the wisteria back home,
last year�s petunias
by the walk.

Simply put,
manure is the answer.

Hello, I�m your new neighbor.
My name is Joan.

A shiver up the spine.
Joan? . . . Ah, yes.
Sit down. Sit down.

February 19, 2006

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