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Self Portrait As Disease

by Steve Gerson

In the disease of age and happenstance,

darkness extends a companion hand,

the dry cough of covetous crows,

the wheeze of bats in blackening throes.

I feel my face shriek-stained and slackening,

a Daliesque clock with numbers fading.

I crouch between the next I fear

and failure to recall what disappeared

behind moonless nights where shadows hide,

cloud-sheared skies and crushing tides,

a virus here, an opiate there,

contagion combusting like forested fire.

I had a friend who lost his wife

who lost her way through dementia, her strife

the gauze-eyed gaze of bracketed air,

and he lost too to cachexia,

the cancerous wrench of breathless churr

between the stork’s perch and buzzard’s soar.

And they and I and you and this,

our darkening age of mosquitos’ hiss

in pooled waters quenching less

beneath tearing winds and treelessness,

intubation, divisive skies,

I fear this disease will anesthetize.

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