So I Hide In This Metal Box


that zaps and twitches. with my mouse
i make the box sing as i create hope,
hate, sorrow, joy, death. i cannot
come out yet. i cannot leave this
room for much longer than it takes
to do the things i must do to survive.
they come to me. people. ms Hoskins
came into this room where i sat in a
daze, rushing to get things on the
clean, blank space before i had to
go for my interview and told me
something was wrong.


something is wrong.

and i watched with detached eyes, my
soul separated from my feelings while
she became weaker and weaker, as the
bleeding progressed. i did not say,
"i will call the doctor/ER/ambulance
for you because you are bleeding into
your brain and you will surely die
without medical attention."

i let her say, "i can't afford the hospital
again, i've not paid the bills from the
last time, they will take everything i

and it bled and bled and she couldn't
use her right hand, it hung like a dead
thing from her arm. "grandma's had a
stroke," Krystal told me. "she's going
to have to have a lot of therapy."

last night we ate dinner on the patio, glenn, krys,
ms Hoskins and i. i locked the dogs in the
house so they wouldn't bother her, they always
sit right on top of her, begging for food and
picking up the bits of food she'd drop because
her rt side still had effects from the last
stroke. i sat in her comfortable cushion by
mistake and only noticed when she sat down
with a grimace on the hard steel patio chair.

"here, stand up," i told her. she didn't want
to bother, "i can sit like this." i had her
stand up and switched cushions and that was
the last physical act of kindness i showed

and this sounds strange and made up, but i swear
it's true: after dinner we three, ms Hoskins,
krys and i, were sitting in the cool fall Alabama
dusk talking. death as a subject visited, i don't
know now where it came from, and ms Hoskins told
krys that she was not afraid to die, that she
would get to see her husband, her son. "and
mother will be waiting for me there," she said
with a smile.

i went into the living room tonight to turn on
the lamp against the dark and found her Bible
and study lesson from church on the table
beside her chair. she knew, don't you think?

i imagine her drifting, like Peggy Sue, somewhere
in time, collecting the memories she wants to
keep of life, drowsing through years in the blink
of an eye, holding newborn babies, making love,
sewing, laughing, her dark eyes dancing in time to music
from a long time ago. young, strong. no limp,
nothing to slow her down.

she always had a smile for me when i entered a
room where she was. just before she went in
for her open heart surgery, before glenn was
even convinced she was in trouble, she talked
to me about being weary, wanting to go to Earl
and Tim and her mother, but she was afraid
to leave Krystal. she was afraid glenn would
not be up to the responsibility of raising her.
i think i wrote back then that perhaps i had
something to do here, something for someone
other than myself, something to do with this
red-haired demon child who really thinks she
was supposed to be born a dog.

during one of glenn's many phone calls to me
from the hospital tonight, i handed krys the
phone so she could talk to him. she knew her
grandma was sick, i'd told her when she got
off the bus, but i hadn't told her how bad
things were. she got done talking to glenn
and handed the phone back to me, crying. i
hung up and held her and cried with her, not
saying much, holding her when the grief would
hit again and double her over. i cried with
her, listened to her talk about how much she'd
miss her grandma. "she was my friend," she said
through tears at one point.

then we did what the living do. we dried our
eyes, made dinner for ourselves and tried to
find a way through the pain by just being together,
laughing sometimes, going through my graphics cd
looking for art for me to play with.

and once in a while it will catch me by surprise.
ms Hoskins lays dying. a sweet, soft woman with
a good bit of her own red-head temper still burning
in the spine of her, though her hair is white now
and no longer the rich, deep auburn of her youth.

i have seen photos of her as a young woman, newly
married, life and joy radiating like sunbeams from
her smile. she was beautiful enough to be a movie

her spirit never lost that beauty.


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