When the doctor called at 3am
to tell me that only a ventilator
could keep my aunt alive at that point,
I stood shivering in the dark kitchen,
thinking about that word, ventilator.
I envisioned a dark shaft of some sort
in an old office building from the fifties,
when my aunt was a young woman.
Then I imagined being in that shaft,
somehow hidden away behind a grill
while an important meeting was going on
in a paneled conference room
full of big shots scribbling things
on yellow legal pads. Millions of dollars
were at stake. Someone’s career,
maybe even their life, depended
on what the important men did or said.
But I was hidden in the ventilator shaft,
safely out of bounds. I stayed
inside that word for as long as I could,
its syllables like four rooms
I could buy some time exploring.
But it was so cold in the dark kitchen,
and the doctor was waiting.