Self Portrait as Disease

After Theodore Roethke’s “In a dark time”

Death and the Maiden, Egon Schiele

In the disease of age and happenstance,
darkness extends a companion hand,
the dry cough of covetous crows,
the wheeze of bats in blackening throes.
I feel my face shriek-stained and slackening,
a Daliesque clock with numbers fading.

I crouch between the next I fear
and failure to recall what disappeared
behind moonless nights where shadows hide,
cloud-sheared skies and crushing tides,
a virus here, an opiate there,
contagion combusting like forested fire.

I had a friend who lost his wife
who lost her way through dementia, her strife
the gauze-eyed gaze of bracketed air,
and he lost too to cachexia,
the cancerous wrench of breathless churr
between the stork’s perch and buzzard’s soar.

And they and I and you and this,
our darkening age of mosquitos’ hiss
in pooled waters quenching less
beneath tearing winds and treelessness,
intubation, divisive skies,
I fear this disease will anesthetize.