Gone Baby Gone by Julie Gates
The death-o-meter is charged and full of life today.
As I waste more hours of my life
Sitting in the lab testing waiting area
A man, scarecrowed, brittle, shredding, skin chartreuse and chalk ivory splotches,
Shuffles slowly by, in tiny angling steps, with a skeleton arm
Resting on the shoulder of his plump wife
Who is brown, confident, loud, and stuck to her cell phone.
Even things made of stone can crumble into bits,
Especially without the attention of careful restoration.
A woman with greasy, thin, gray-brown hair, balding
Has wedged her girth into a chair opposite me
And smiles at the little Hispanic baby all decked out in pink, lace, bows,
And uncontrollable verve for life
And then turns her cold sweat beet red face to the side
To ward off the next tidal wave of hell
Writhes, grits her teeth, smashes her black-blue eyelids closed
And a drop of water slithers down her tired face.
Through the electric open doors comes a beautiful young nurse
Lips bright red, skin perfectly brown, smooth, decorated with bangles of gold
And hands with no visible veins, blinged, bejeweled, blinding,
Driving the wheelchair of a small gray man
Who is fading, shrinking, ghosting
On the way to the treatment
That won’t save him.
Julie Gates is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Angelo State University, where she is the director of the English Education program, and has worked with colleagues since 2002 on the annual ASU Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton, conducting the conference interview with Terrance Hayes in 2009, and chairing the conference for 2 years when Mary Karr (2010) and Art Spiegleman (2011) were the featured writers. Dr. Gates has published poetry in Amarillo Bay, Blue Bonnet Review, Carcinogenic Poetry, Concho River Review, Voices de la Luna, Visions with Voices, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, and Red River Review .She has presented poetry and creative nonfiction at the South Central Modern Language Association Conference, the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers Conference, and the Langdon Review Weekend.