Entering the ICU by Jessica Dubey

  The air tastes of                      spoiled milk                         a day ago

something that              was safe           to drink            Its molecules

lock onto my skin        follow me back to my hotel    climb into bed with me

They resist             hot showers and rainstorms    I want     to crawl away

I want      to live                 the imperfection                         of the past

Now     I stand                  at the entrance                            of the ICU

A set of doors                          and a sign                    stand          between us

I pull                        at the dispenser               this mindless     new ritual

I imagine        filling              my cupped hands                  an offering

hand sanitizer                    to anoint him                  to seep     into his pores

across the moat            that surrounds his brain       to destroy     the darkness

A man in his room                 pushes a mop                         traces the floor

around my husband         makes a dirty outline          dips the disheveled head

back                            into the bucket                      of wretched water

then spreads it                  & all its misery                       to the next room



Visual art by Ruben van Gogh