This Scourge #2

Summer 2017.

I take out the blanket and you don’t notice.

I shuffle through a cluttered house, arranging, rearranging, setting a scene, imagining how it’ll be, wondering what you know, where you go when you come in and out. You, in the corner, with your hunger sounds and weak purr and soft weirdness. With your dehydrated cat breath, the insouciant cancer host.

A Nat King Cole record skips and I change it. I pull another from its sleeve, swipe a cobweb off the mantle, blow my nose, scrub the sink, mind the clock. I sweep scout ants and fur and dirt and chewed nails into a pile. I eye the bourbon, knowing it won’t work, gnaw the insides of my cheeks with dull teeth. Coin-flavored trepidation.

This week, a congress of crows has conquered our yard, their voices as loud and ugly as yours ever was. They terrorize hummingbirds and loot their hatchlings. I remind myself I don’t believe in signs, scrub the molding.

This thing. This insect of anxiety vibrates and pulses in my sternum. Such a sickening flutter. This thing that started ten years ago when we watched Pam fade in and out and the milligrams go up and up. This witnessing. Otis bloating and swelling. This crystal ball. This disquietude. And now, you. Now Truman.

Mop the floor and mind the mess. Make the space presentable.

I scrub the toilet and make the bed. I sweep the porch. I order the liquor cabinet, like order over there ever mattered.

She knocks at 4:02.

They’d said “between 4 and 5”.

Her promptness, a cruelty, as she trudges onstage with her compact pouch of needles. With her soft eyes and Jamie Lee Curtis hair. You greet her with your furry face and purple eyes and hideous, beauteous voice. A final welcome.

“Two injections,” she says. “The first, just a sedative. He may jump.” But you’re so weak you don’t need the second.

Last night, I read words about you before a group of strangers. Tomorrow, I’ll take out the blanket and you won’t be here to notice. You’ll be a starman and we’ll be here.

Here, with so much to quail at.

And photos of you to dust.

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