(In memory of Frank Paino, MD)

Now you have no voice
          beyond the respirator’s
double-noted dirge.
          Here, where a knife
of summer light shears
          a white wound
across bleached bedsheets,
          the bright hosannas
of those you healed
          draw back like tide
before a killing wave,
          and I see a man
who’s powerless to grant
          himself that same
deft clemency.
          Still, you raise yourself
from the railed bed’s pillow
          to scrawl the seven
syllables of your breathless
the first word round as a spoon-
          ful of wild honey,
the next almost Edenic.
          No way to make them
mean you’ll get out of this