At night they move him
to the silent room
where nothing sharp
will hurt him, where
his dreams can pour
24 hours a day.
This shift signals
the end, always.

Here, they raise him up
in bed, for other tricks,
high enough to see
roofs burn with sunset
or his yellow arms
stretched out
like beached creatures
he could not save.

In his light they flick in and out,
white shadows -- throats
like the ocean, tide
running low; salt
for his lips, shells
for his ear, tenders
of the breathless sleep.

They make me look
when it's over, lock
that image in my sleep;
make me take the flowers
from his side, arrived
too late for get-wells,
that in his last sight,
blooming red,

he'd called "Jesus."

1981 John Goss