The Last Letter

My little cousin's dying. He's seven and three-quarters (he's very adamant about the 'three-quarter') and he still refuses to admit it. I went to visit him in the hospital today. This is what he told me, and I learned more from a little boy today than a thousand books could've told me.

Past fake-cheerful paintings

And sterile walls, doctors

Rushing along the hallways,

And people I wish I didn't know.

He sits there, so small and

Fragile-looking in the hospital

Bed, but he still smiles for me

And tries to sit up. I hurry over

And stop him, while his parents

Give me a faint smile and leave the

Room quietly, my aunt turning back

And giving me a look that clearly states,

Tell me if anything happens and I nod.

He's weak, struggles to breathe, but he

Has the breathing tube in and is

Hooked up to the ventilator, what is

Keeping him from suffocating. He

Looks so damn happy to see me,

And I lean over to grasp his hand,

Asking him how he is (a stupid question)

He says 'okay' in a scratchy voice,

With the tone that an almost-eight-year-old

Should never have. One that says that

He knows what's coming, the pain

And suffering, and that he's not oblivious.

It's selfish of me,  but I want him to be five

Again, to be able to breathe without

Help and to not gasp and to live past ten.

He smiles at me wonkily and hands me

Something. It's a piece of paper, the back

Of a blank doctor's report -Dr. Davidson

Must have given it to him- and on it,

In slanting, mis-matched, crazy lettering,

Obviously written with a blue crayon, it says,

i lOve yOu, COuSin, lOtS Of KiSSeS, yOu

aRe like My SiSteR. He was taken out of school

Before he could learn certain things, and I press

My lips to his limp hand, tears blurring my vision.

But I blink them away, ignoring them in favor of

Giving my attention to him. Oh dearie, I think,

What has life done to you? And I reply with a,

'And you know you're my brother.'

He seems vaguely happy at that, the best I've seen

Him in a while. I swallow hard and listen as he

Says, 'I don't want you to love me.'

I must look confused, because he quickly explains,

'I don't want to hurt you' With dwindling confidence.

'No, no, Blackbird' I use the old nickname from

When he'd run around and stop suddenly, pointing

To the sky. 'A blackbird', he'd say. My eyes are stinging.

'I'll always love you, to the moon and back.'

My throat is dry. 'You know that.' He looks sad,

And I stand up abruptly, as he's getting tired,

And I say, 'I'll be back tomorrow. Like always.'

And he says, 'Good luck.' And I can't help but

Wonder what he means, so I leave the sick boy

To sleep, holding back salty, burning tears,

Keeping my head down as I pass his parents,

Looking at his old room, where he used to be,

Standing in a room cleared of any evidence.

In front of a pristinely folded hospital bed.

It's been a week since he was moved to the new ward.

The End

0 comments about this poem Feed