Hey, handsome...

Written by: John Heck

My heart is empty, Jeffrey.
I’m standing here transfixed 
within the threshold 
of a vacant bedroom.
The air is still
but the delicate scent 
of your passing soul 
invades my nostrils. 
The aroma travels deep 
inside the tunnels 
of my abdominal cavity -
lingering like... 
a dew-anointed meadow 
sleeping ‘neath 
a fuchsia sunrise.

Your mattress is scrubbed, 
stripped and sunlit – 
except for two eiderdown pillows.
I envision a perfect outline -
your fragile face
softly carved within 
the creases of these satin cases.
I visually inhale the profile 
of your splendor; 
a modern day Shroud of Turin 
resurrected and resplendent 
through trickled specks 
of semi-dried sweat.

“No more IV’s”…“right…”
“No more bedpans”…“exactly…”
“No more night sweats”…“yes, handsome…”
“Now give me a big hug, Jeffrey…Jeffrey…”

My hands tremble as I 
reach from one photograph to the next.
The images I want to barter 
with Faustus and friends - 
ensuring me a pact 
whereas I can live and breathe 
inside these time honored pixels -
content in lonely frames
hanging upon clinical walls 
in a half-emptied bedroom.

I grabbed a beaded satin pillow
to cushion the fall as
I slowly hyperventilated.
I breathe once more, Jeffrey,
but I’ll gag twice again,
as I remember our newly spoken language -
a private dialect we created last month
reminiscent of the movie 
“The Lost Language of Cranes.”
Those three long weeks before
you suddenly became incoherent 
and inaudible 
and immobilized. 
Remember how we improvised?
Remember, handsome:

(shaking and arms crossed) “OK…you’re cold – I’ll get you a blanket!"
(pointing to your mouth)  “You’re thirsty…water or juice?"
(pointing to your mouth and shaking) “OK…I’ve got it…ice cream…pudding?"
(index fingers pointing upward and swaying) “I know… you wanna listen to music”
(index fingers pointing downward) “Please turn off the TV set”
(middle finger pointing upward) “OK…you want me to adjust your pillows?"
(both middle fingers pointing upward and shaking) “Alright…alright – I know!…If you
hear Celine Dion one more time on the radio you’re gonna kick your bedpan off the side of
the bed!"

(arms folded across your chest)…”Rest handsome, rest…”

Ssshhhh...
It’s OK, Jeffrey...it's OK.
No more IV’s.
No more bedpans.
I have your pictures.
You're not sweating anymore.
I’m not choking...now.
Beautiful pillows…really…
TV’s turned off...
Ate the last of the ice cream
and the pudding...and...

And as I did -
I swallowed every part
of your triumphant, 
blessed soul.