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this youth

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my uncle was taken by lung cancer.

i told him to lay down.

he looked through me, drooling

and then he sat on the side of the bed.

i helped him down...

they took him in his blanket,

through the backyard and fat bellied neighbour

had red eyes, wide open, looking at us,

us, putting his friend in the ambulance truck.

he didn't bother to wipe his face, the neighbour.

he knew what was going on.

my brother on the other hand...

i told him that we are stronger.

he listened to me. i didn't.

“come on, let's eat something”, he said

as wheels rolled down the street...

and we ate.

“there's something wrong with him

and if he is lucky, he's gonna be back sooner or later.”

i said.

“but there's a chance he might not come back.

the others, they don't want me to tell you, but i want you to understand this.


“yes, i know, he is sick, but hopefully he'll be fine.”

and we ate.

“don't force yourself, cry if you need to cry.”

“what are you talking about i've been crying all morning...”

what am i talking about?

i ran from my house to theirs that morning,

chased by this idea that if i get there in under ten minutes,

that maybe i will accomplish something, for him. maybe it would be easier for him, somehow.

“my dear grandson my child don't you be crying don't you be crying

i am old me and grandma we are gonna cry for all of us.”

my grandfather said,

his son, dead.

hugging me at the door, not letting me in.

they went to visit him at the hospital that morning.

nurse told them to wait.

someone came and told my brother and my grandmother,

that he died last night.

last night...

what was i doing last night?

at two?

i don't pray, but i... i kneeled by my bed and crossed my fingers. for him...

it was almost two.

window on my ceiling, low enough for me to pierce the roof,

and it was airy november night,

slow humming of the sleepless world,

and it might be the prayer thing, putting ideas in my head

but i looked up and i saw weak light, lightening the clouds.

i remembered that next day, when they said “two o'clock”.

i never told anyone.

so i took my brother and my sister outside.

we went for a walk.

there's this german shepherd in the yard by the church,

and every time i'm there he walks to the fence for me to pet him.

so we did.

we lit up candles at the church and then siletly walked back to the house.

later, i took them to the park.

“fuck...”, i gulped, and the room was all cold marble.

how did he fit in there?

my father once said that cancer took all of him.

my father. i saw him from across the street.

before coming, inside, the house, he stopped, at the gate. he stood, there, looking at the ground, his hand, on the fence.

later he's gonna ask me to come with him, before the funeral,

to help him finish all the paperwork.

we were first,

and his coffin

so small.

my uncle.

“they called me to identife his body”, my father said. “it ate him all up.”, he repeated.

“there was nothing left. i just hope none of you will ever have to do such a thing.”

we were by the river that pale winter.

i kept my stuff shut. didn't say a word.

i was waking up every morning

and every dream had the same thought written at the end of the last page:

“he, has, cancer”.

i would think of that while asleep,

and then - i wake up.

it lasted for a month.

my birthday was the next day.

we shipped him to the hospital, in his brown blanket.

they said we shouldn't go, me and my brother, we agreed.

i was there, at the restaurant, silent, guests around me,

my girlfriend asked the bar to play my song.

i sat there. i'm a kid now? a person? how do people have birthdays?

the language i spoke was the language i came up with.

there's this dream...

i had, a dream, with him in it, couple of times, i believe, in next few months.

in one of them, i was the only one that knew.

we were having family lunch and when he coughed i would jump,

and everybody looked at me. i walked him up the stairs, he asked me what was wrong with me.

later on i saw him on the streets. a lot.

a guy with darkest of hairs, maybe he wore a similar jacket, or maybe he walked in a same way,

and i knew what was going on, i just had to be sure. i would walk up to him, look, and continue walking. to make sure. but it was always him for half a second. or at least memory of him.

“you were very brave”, they said. “calling ambulance, talking to him.”

i don't think there's any bravery in this poem. truth is, i didn't feel like i was there.

even before it happened. i was already stained by the very idea of it all.

i don't know...

i really don't know.

My uncle died two weeks after my 18th birthday.

He had a stroke and his lungs filled with water day before my girlfriend organized birthday party for me. Me and my brother were there when it happened, took care of him, called 911, carried him to the ambulance truck. He was in the hospital for two weeks before he died.

This poem is about those two, three months.

© 2019 O'Hare