On the road to euthanasia

by Marc Swan 

When thunder rumbles over his bed 

he doesn’t move. Does he hear it?

 Does he understand? He’s been 

in this place three years. His pale 

watery blue eyes grown accustomed 

to changing light of morning, afternoon 

and night. He speaks less, mostly phrases, 

jumbled thoughts, sometimes a pinhole 

appears and words flow. I watch his eyes 

flutter. What does he hear? His impassivity 

is unsettling. He has an untreated angio

sarcoma, raw and oozing on his forehead, 

unclipped fingernails, toenails thick 

and gnarly, a shock of unruly white hair. 

We wash it once a week, says the stocky 

woman with yellow teeth, a crooked smile. 

In the afternoon residents gather in the 

main room for games and cookies. His 

girlfriend, my mother says, pointing to a dark-haired 

middle-aged woman in a blue hospital gown 

staring at the red exit sign over the door. 

Her husband comes daily as my mother 

does. They never seem to notice, off by 

themselves in another time. I think of 

choice. I think of timing of that choice. 

When the whippoorwill sings, there’ll be 

a new day. If you hear it. If you understand.


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