Touch: The Journal of Healing



Last Dance with Bobby

    by Nina Bennett

When the doctor told us the results

of your liver biopsy, we spoke hushed words

in the hallway, hovered over your bed, cried

as we walked to the parking garage.

After you looked at us and said

I know I’m dying,

how about we stop the polite talk

we surrendered healthcare provider roles

like a matador flinging his cape

to the ground, not in defeat

but in honor. I remember

how we laughed, giddy,

freed by your words,

how for the next three weeks

like leeches we sucked the story

of you from your memory,

how Rich hooked up a VCR

in your hospital room

and we watched Blazing Saddles

over and over. And I remember

the morning it snowed,

how you wanted to feel snow

on your face one last time,

so Cathy and I sweet-talked

the resident into letting us

take you outside in a wheelchair,

how we danced around you

in a circle, wrapping your cashmere scarf

about you like a ribbon

on a May Pole. We stuck

our tongues out, trying

to capture another memory

before it hit the ground and melted.

The day you died

I was in San Antonio,

lighting a candle for you

in the Mission San Jose. Cathy

dead now too, cancer cells

like a runaway truck plowing

from breast to brain. Her service

held in the same church as yours,

but the wake I remember

is the raucous, bawdy evening

in your hospital room

while you were still living.

© 2011 by Nina Bennett

Nina Bennett, author of Forgotten Tears A Grandmother’s Journey Through Grief, has worked in the HIV field since the beginning of the epidemic.  Her poetry appears in journals and anthologies including Pulse, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Oranges & Sardines, Philadelphia Stories, The Broadkill Review, and Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS and Mourning Sickness.  Nina is a contributing author to the Open to Hope Foundation.

Copyright © 2011

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.