Dirt that hides itself underneath fingernails.
Dry, cracked skin tells a hero's story.
Years of hard work leave a calloused palm
Firmly hangs on to pride and glory.
Unmoving, now, these hands must rest,
Increasingly frail with the passing of time.
Smooth and lifeless marble memories
Lie limply on the line between dead and alive.
The large, but delicate, paw of this man
Gently clasped between two of my own.
No longer the sandpapery sanctuary
My inner child has always known.
Haunting face of a skeleton man:
Sad, sunken eyes and pale, hollow cheeks.
It's hard to believe that this is my Grampy,
Broken, vulnerable, and weak.
Bitter death courses through wilting veins,
The cancer's consumption appalls me.
Muscle long gone, but soul still resides
In this fragile excuse of a body.
Effort required, he opens his eyes,
Gazing at nothing; glazed over.
With all of his might, he lifts his left hand
And feebly motions, "Come closer."
Preparing my mind like a notebook in class,
Leaning closer with elbows on knees,
I tell myself, "Always remember."
You can't relive moments like these.
His mouth barely opens, and chest moves so slightly.
I hold my breath just so I hear.
But the words that escape are lost in the noise
Of machines filling space in my ears.
I'm wishing that I could despise these machines
For drowning out words of importance.
But they are what keeps Grampy "living" and well,
So I lean closer, hoping I'll hear this.
The faintest of voices begins once again,
Frequently pausing in pain.
Despite weary words and sharp, broken breathing,
He says all he needed to say.
I try my best to remember his speech,
But I should've written it down.
Now, all I have is this quilt of my senses:
Lost words that cannot be found.
Resting my head on a skin-and-bone shoulder
That feels like it's made of thin glass.
The scents are all unfamiliar to me,
Unlike gun oil, pencils, or cut grass.
The smell of chlorine and gin is now absent.
Not playing cards, fire, or boats.
All that remains is this hospital bed.
All he is now is a ghost.
Getting up, my eyes fall on his just one last time.
I allow them to fill up with tears.
Now, you may give up; you can't win this fight,
Like the battles of previous years.
His old eyes brighten, then peacefully shut.
Suddenly, pain seems to stop.
Thin, chapped lips, close for the last time.
Infectious smile is lost.