The oxygen machine trembles, clicks, hisses.
Through clear green tubes running into
the bedroom, up to her face. I hope
she’s fallen back to sleep without me there
snoring in her old bed while she’s nearby
in the new hospital one that raises and lowers.
To leave her alone, I’ve come into the living room
and cranked back her recliner.
I can see what a chore the living are.
Even these hyacinths my brother bought
for her eightieth birthday have become a pain.
They can’t hold their perfumey heads up. She
asked me, “What do you know about bulbs?
Do the flowers have to die to make a new one?”
Or can I just wrap up the bulbs and give them to you?
Engine and catch of breath. Sentence. Meaning.
Jeff Oaks’s newest chapbook, Mistakes with Strangers, will be published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2014. A recipient of three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, Jeff Oaks has published poems in a number of literary magazines, most recently in Fourth River, Prairie Schooner, Rhino, Field, and Mead. His essays have appeared in At Length, My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them, and in Creative Nonfiction. He teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.