Complications (1) 

It seems a simple, mystical 

Matter for the body to breathe 

And eat, each in turn and 

Separately, to take into itself 

The air and energy it needs.

But my mother’s brain—cracked, 

Broken, swollen, holy, burning— 

Refuses to comply, to keeps its promises, 

To color within the lines. Instead,

It complicates the matter, performs

Anti-miracles, so that the food
And breath become one. Aspiration
The doctors call it, when particles
Of food are taken into the lungs, invaders,

And wage war against the healthy tissue,

Besieging and starving it, until

Infection forms and spreads, 

And the citadels of the body fall 

One by one, systems fail,

And the breath grows ever weaker,

And near the end comes slower, labored, 

and the gurgling starts, the lungs a plaguey 

swamp, her eyes swimming in morphine— 

2 mg every 2 hours, as needed—fighting
to truly look, see, and make meaning

of the faces floating before her, fever 

rising and falling like a tide, ‘til finally 

the breath ebbs, and the reservoir 

empties out for good. Was it peaceful? 

Was it painless? The questions asked

Are as mystical, ineffable as the systems 

They seek to describe and understand. 

Our bodies guide us now here, now there,

But always towards dying and away 

From life, as nature pitilessly prescribes.

Who will not follow? Who will not go? 

Who will not empty their pockets,
And strip off their clothes, and dive
Into the frigid pool, and swim with assured 

Strokes towards the ever-deeper waters.