When the phone rings
at one am
the house phone, not your cell,
and persistently, not a dial and dash,
know it can’t be good.
Sit up in bed and listen for the footsteps
When they come,
grab your shoes and meet them on the stairs.
Make your way to the car.
Know that an explanation will hold
until you are moving at a higher velocity.
While you break traffic laws,
take the bad news with poise;
there will be time enough to freak out later.
When you finally reach the hospital
Know that no doctor will meet you —
They like to create suspense.
There will be an abundance of nurses
working an unwanted late shift and
who are none too sympathetic towards your situation.
Remind yourself that they see death
all the time. You don’t.
That will hit you like a Buick.
When you find the hospital room,
a doctor will appear out of no where,
just when the seriousness is hitting you
And you are in no state to hear this news.
When it comes anyway, close your eyes.
Inhale deeply and know that this
is exactly what you had been expecting
ever since that first fateful ring.
Let it sink in as you stand there,
watching your own reflection in the glass
as machines flat line and,
just when you thought that telephone ring
was the worst sound you ever heard,
a different beep taints the air.
Your mother will be inconsolable
though your father will try.
He himself will most likely be in denial.
The doctor will leave — messengers with
this type of news never stay long — leaving you
To stand alone as the world comes crashing down.
Wait for the tears to come.
Guaranteed, they will.
Wait for the panic to hit you
when you realize there is nothing you can do.
Wait for the wash of desolation when you realize
it’s over. He’s gone.
Not even one chance to say goodbye.
And then there is nothing to do but go home,
and do the one thing that will prevent a repeat of
Unplug the damn phone.