(click – listen to the voice behind the words – recited to instrumental accompaniment – “Sometime When It Rains” by Secret Garden)
On 11th Street
outside the Senior Citizens’ complex,
the blue lights blink again tonight.
A quarter moon smiles in the dark winter sky above
but not upon this one apartment.
The volunteers remove the stretcher
its extended legs
replace those that can not walk.
It has been a difficult day.
The pain in the morning no different than most.
By noontime it did not subside
and then at nightfall,
the tray of colorful pills having been expended,
there was no choice but to push the insta-alert.
Now as the flashings lights reflect upon the window panes,
barely no one stirred or moved
from within the 15 remaining units.
For most, the night air was too cold,
there was not much they could do,
and this event would remind them of their own frailty
never mind tax emotions meddled by friendship.
Only Joe from Apartment 3C
was spry enough to leave his shelter,
shuffle the 200′ to where the ambulance awaited.
There upon the stretcher he saw her
awake, but in agony.
He grasped her hand –
with the other touched her cheek –
soon had to let go.
He could not keep pace with the young attendants.
As they lifted her into the back
they asked if he was family
and while his 18 month love
would at any other time make him so
he hesitated, until the patrolman,
who knew both he and her
offered him a lift to the hospital
and they went off into the night.
She, touched by the 20 seconds of his presence,
momentarily forgot her circumstance
then when told that Joe was in the car behind
she heard all she needed to be at peace,
silently closed her eyes.
When the straight line beep signaled an emergency
they did not panic, nor did they grab the paddles
to bring her back to her world of suffering –
much as she was shocked, as a babe,
when first brought into the world –
There was no useful purpose.
They had made this trip before, knew her wishes.
They would ride in this procession
planning only to attend to Joe
when they told him the news,
in the hospital waiting room.