You were holding a roll of surgical tubing,
had it coiled around your elbow & shoulder
like a plastic lasso. We’d woken
to the Loomix tank full of belly-ups,
spent all morning checking belts & gaskets.
You hummed Bonnie Raitt as you worked.
After several wasted hours, I found the root:
the oxygen pump, halfway to burn-out
from all its useless sucking, its gasping
through the pumice filter—choked
with dead minnows, each the size & shimmer
of a roofing nail. I can’t keep myself from seeing
your deathbed, by now a thousand miles
& ten years away in five directions.
They put Amazing Grace on the boom box.
Tubing hung near your head.
On the mantle, your porcelain horses
kept rearing & rearing.
A Wallace Stegner Fellow, J.P. Grasser is a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, where he edits Quarterly West.