I’m at a double wake
in Springfield, for a childhood
friend and his father
who died years ago. I join
my aunt in the queue of mourners
and walk into a brown study,
a sepia room with books
and magazines. The father’s
in a coffin; he looks exhumed,
the worse for wear. But where
my friend’s remains should be
there’s just the empty base
of an urn. Where are his ashes?
His mother hands me
a paper cup with pills:
leucovorin, Zovirax,
and AZT. “Henry
wanted you to have these,”
she sneers. “Take all
you want, for all the good
they’ll do.” “Dlugos.
Meester Dlugos.” A lamp
snaps on. Raquel,
not Welch, the chubby
nurse, is standing by my bed.
It’s 6 a.m., time to flush
the heplock and hook up
the LV. line. False dawn
is changing into day, infusing
the sky above the Hudson
with a flush of light.