The hospital was so big
it had an elevator to the elevators,
structural columns like a fortress,
huge cement spaces
with shining stainless interiors,
the mellow glow of chrome
and cool white everywhere.
On a high floor, he seemed undersized for his room
looking out on another roof full of heating ducts;
going to hell in a hand basket we agreed
with tubes plugged in his arm through a permanent valve,
wearing a Big Island cap and watching college football.
We chit chatted without remark on the strangeness,
not at the end for either of us but clearly within sight.
He was a state cop after Vietnam corpsman,
power washed big kitchens, raised pigs and geese,
helped me bury my dog.
He loved spiritual things but never left the earth;
loyal like a turtle with a bark but gentle bite.
Said he was sticking around cause his kids
needed him to clean up a few things.
Was there much left I asked?
Oh yeah he laughed, then cried a bit,
giving me a hug as we parted in the doorway;
a sweet nurse took our picture,
the record of time and a friend
in my pocket.