I hover, Saturnine like, my scary but welcoming scythe bright over the ward of the dying. I would call them wretched creatures but they are not despite what the eye sees. Saline drips from needles and eyes over soft and wrinkled white skin and I do not hear their broken voices and recognize each one from their strong youths. Is it possible that these people once shouted? Once lifted babies to their breasts? And strong, strong arms and legs. In a moment of forever they once were. Young and cheap by the dozen. Now they lay exhumed, their station in life beyond repair. We talk and they have to listen, nodding with every single prayer.
In still chairs they sit, covered with matting cloth while television bores its vacuous signal into their unfilled brains. A clutter of once precious weeds now fit for not one good thing. They have been altered and altered still by experiences and that attracts me. I mention their pitiable bodies just once. Row upon row of them in a shelter that used to house the young. Behind each, a fiery light burns and it is that which summons me.
When awake, they cough but I do not attend to them. They plead for medicine, for peace but I do not hear them. They pray for courage but I do not issue it. They plead for chemicals to numb the fire but I have none. They mumble as best they can but no sense issues from them. They have taut stretched skin interspersed with needle bruises and some are left alone for hours in their own dark shit.
There is no pattern and no order left for them to explore; just a continuum. What pity must we share before we care, isolated and frameless. They wait for me, past hope, hanging by a silver thread. Yes, my Saturn arcs his way across the sky and sees each in turn, scooping them up day by day, hour by hour in an inevitable battle against the birth of them. Yes, still they come, mask-like and piteous. But we love them still.