$1,000 PRIZE
JUNE 2014
When I see you crumpled there,
pin-cushioned body
running out of veins.
Tender hands
that once held mine,
caught the nape of my neck
when we did the dip
on the Bud-bathed floor of the pub.
Powerful legs
that pounded asphalt in the rain
at the Marine Corps Marathon,
outsquatted grunting men
in weight belts at the gym.
Green-blue eyes
that melted bad moods,
with one wink knew it was time
to leave the merlot and caviar crowd
and find a table for two.

When you don’t hear the whir
of the pump squeezing oxygen
into swamped lungs.
Or the
ba-da-ba of the
Jeopardy theme
from the fuzzy TV
on the bureau in your room.
Or the cackle of the overweight nurse
with the run in her hose
telling bedpan jokes in the hall
while others come in to change
soggy sheets, rub ragdoll limbs.

What about when it’s visiting hours
and they say only relatives,
and I know he won’t come anyway.
The graying man with fine suits,
a bulging briefcase
and a Rolodex of reasons
he won’t accept this disease.

What about when they bring
in the priest,
and he says don’t be bitter,
“It’s in God’s hands.”
And I notice he’s sweating
and his collar seems too tight.
And I want to scream
what kind of hands are those,
not soft like yours.

Then do I pray?

Susan Miller is an editor for the USA Today
newspaper. Her poetry has been published in
From Under the Bridges of America, Moving
Words, The Common Ground Review, and the
Arlington Artsletter. She was a featured poet at
a reading at the Art Barn in Washington, D.C.
by Susan Miller