Hello, My Name Is tag, left blank, stickered onto a wall.

My girlfriend is a nurse, so friends and family say,
when the time comes you’ll help me, right?
They mean like a big dose of drugs or a pillow over the face.
We walk the hallway past the old afflicted trapped in beds
and stuck in wheelchairs facing walls or in TV rooms
watching dead actors or clustered at nursing stations
with the same bewildered look like, how did I end up here?
Because none of us would choose this dirty place
with pinhole in the walls, scuff marks and blood stains,
cold food on section trays, dementia and paralysis—
my sister says, you better keep me out of here.
My uncle says, it’s wrong…it’s wrong. My aunt is curling
into a creature she wouldn’t know: teeth gone, left side numb,
or as they say, neglected, fingers thin and white with blue bruises
just from tapping a bed rail. She’s sinking away, expanding,
black mollusk form of the spirit within like someone struggling
to take off a sweater. And yet how can I say it—it
doesn’t really scare me. It’s just like grammar school,
the kindergarten class with dumb kids eating erasers
and pissing in their chairs and standing at recess like zombies—
dying like this is the same as entering any of these institutions:
underfunded, overcrowded, neglected strange inhabitants,
cries and random singing, days that never end until they do—
we’re all bound to end up with a name tag and a cubbyhole,
wandering around and wondering where our mother went.


Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, used and adapted under CC.