41: coma in cantos, canto 2

canto 2

as I sit at my father’s bedside
I wonder if he’s deepsleeping
a way up
the darkness
to the peak of the ladder
(and what then? out to what?)
or if he remembers
his image of heaven,
the respirator,
the other machines,
respiring him,
the gears making his
blood move,
the pressures,
the gravities the doctors
tell me for sanity, for love,
make the world whole

his concept of heaven
I remember from the pillow
as I sit at his beside,
breathing uninterrupted
and artificial air
I have little trust in, heaven
a thing I once asked a friend
about, asking:

its not the matter
of faith I worry about
it’s its object

and the sufficiency
of the object, I ask:
how can you believe
and expect me
to imagine you serious?

He smiles, my friend,
with his faith
and his coffee
and the countless
freckles on his hand
in which I read elephants
and wasps and the stones
that ring high places
where the wind
carries the words
of lost people,
carriers of disease,
pleaders who wake
every morning to ask
yet again for aid and comfort
and yet again in their
repetitive maddeningness
for unverifiable assistance

those people and my friend,
who I call the religious
of the maybe next time
or maybe tomorrow,
as after a thousand years,
of Bigfoot sightings,
in your trust,
still you would believe
in what you would paint
as faith
when the sky departs
in its billion miles of swells
knowable and just as lovely,
like the beauty
of everyday things,
slugs, ticks, spiders,
watermelon, the passing of things,
hands and tubing,
poetry where tooth picks appear

you who swallow
your coffee,
smile in your artificial simplicity

you may have your faith,
I say, you may have your heaven,
and leave me
alone, to return
to the voice of my father
echoing behind the voices
of the machines
and the mumblesome
trattle of the doctor
who shakes his head
and says,
time will tell.

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