Visiting My Dying Grandfather

by Elizabeth Vignali


Air splits cold around my bicycle,
pinks my cheeks, summons
tears from my eyes. Air sinks orange
with sun, rises moon blue,
but it cannot find its way
into the lungs of my grandfather,
white in a white bed in a white room.


Room 437. Even the light can’t pry
between his fingers and hers,
their liver-spotted backs knotted
against the world, soft palms
pressed together. 
Inside their hands there is no light.
There is only darkness, his flesh
and hers.
There is only darkness,
a pressing.


In the elevator from fourth floor to ground level:
a second-floor intermission.
The doors whisper open, but all that enters
is the hospital smell of sickness and hand sanitizer.
Going down? it asks. Going down, I say.
Wheeling past, a wasted man snaps at me:
“Maddy. Why so mad, Maddy?”
I’m shocked into laughter. But then the doors close
and I’m going down, going down.



Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Crab Creek Review, Nimrod, Floating Bridge Review, and Menacing Hedge. Her chapbook, Object Permanence, is available from Finishing Line Press. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her daughters, two geriatric cats, and a venerable chihuahua.