The Killing


At the table with your whole team,
visitor badges on our chests,
we’re talking about
killing you. You are in the next room
and you are not
going to wake up, they say.
Your consciousness has found its way
out of the paddock and beyond
the meadow. It crosses
a creek high with spring rain, dying leaves
pulled from the bank—the dark set in,
heavy as an eyelid.
They call it a miracle you’ve lasted this
long on less than a nickel’s chance.
We consider your odds
like flipping a coin,
as if gravity’s fractional pull might ease you
or us into silence.
I tell the nephrologist you would like—
would have liked—her, her cutting to truth.
Our house bordered a ravine
and winding spine of a brook, more
trickle than a stream, the steep ridge
you made me promise to push you over—
only half joking—if it came to this.
Yesterday your kidneys failed,
body winning out over will,
and they wheeled you into dialysis.
Before that, it was your lungs
and they wheeled in the ventilator.
Catheter. Ecmo. Your heart
trampled and senseless. We choose
to end your life. We say
the bullet spares
the lame from
suffering. You always feared
it would be out of your hands
and now it is.

Sarah Anne Stinnett