by Judith Barrington

It’s a Sunday, the moon sprinting again
towards her glory. They stick sensors on my chest
and put me to bed. Down the hall
two women sit in a room where monitors
beep, etching the stories of heartbeats—
each rhythmic anomaly, each hesitation.

The moon whispers her obscene proposition
into frail ears. Deep in the night someone’s pump
murmurs its acquiescence and on the screen
a cadence flatlines. Old Loony grips my clavicle
but I never see her face—not in the small square of my room
and not through the window that shows concrete and brick.

The room is a cell where I’m held, not against my will
but by sudden frailty—imprisoned by breathlessness.
Blood has clumped and landed where breath should be,
the lung longing to swell like the waxing moon,
the heart’s response unpredictable, they say.
I’ve staggered into a film with an over-written sound track.

When finally I’m allowed a stroll, I glimpse
old bodies curled into sheets, clutching pillows
to their chests. The moon is in with them too—
no silver light, but air heavy as mercury.
Death thrums beyond my hearing
each instrument playing anxiety at the peak of its range.

Judith Barrington has published three poetry collections, most recently Horses and the Human Soul and two chapbooks: Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea and Lost Lands (winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Award). She was the winner of the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize for 2013. She teaches workshops in the USA, Britain, and Spain and has been a faculty member of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.