If a Lot of Stuff

If you ever called in the night’s dim desperation
you’ve been diagnosed
your he can’t take the heat
I would say friend forever
I would make your bed
I would cook your rice
I would wash your bloody underpants
I would open the windows to let in the air
I would hold your shoulders in the evening
I would help you shave your hair off
without complaining when you turn in the bed 
and vomit onto my chest
when you cry I will listen
when you talk about the remainder
the days of pain, the only days
I will wait
I will help you put on your shoes
point out pretty birds beside the road
I will hold your hand walking into the ward
I will explain our complicity to the doctors
in the night I will rub your back when you can’t sleep
I’ll buy you a picture book of big trees
I’ll organize your pills by days of the week and times of the day
I’ll put on your favorite music: Aretha and Amy
I may lose my job to take care of you
I may lose my friends 
I may lose my mind a bit, shaken not stirred
but losing you would crush me out like a cigarette
I would be found wandering lost,
blank, calling your name.

I won’t forget that I wanted you so, that I needed you for myself
and you brushed me off like a fly,
but I can forgive everything now, and there will be
no pity, no charity, no saintliness
I will just change your chamber pots and give your shots
because even your wreck, your dusty bag of bones, is still the person I loved
more than filth, more than waiting, more than moaning, more than metastasis
you don’t have to do or say anything, just exist
even if.

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E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 40 years in eastern Sicily, where he taught English at the local university. His poetry appeared most recently in Ginosko, Metaworker, Triggerfish, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and Grey Sparrow Review among others. Martin is an alumnus of the Community of Writers. He has published two collections of haiku, Bitter Pills and Smart Pills, and a chapbook, Exile's Choice, just out from Kelsay Books. A full collection, Method & Madness, is forthcoming from Odyssey Press. Martin blogs at: https://emartinpedersenwriter.blogspot.com
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