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Along this Road

by William Feltt

Awake in a nightmare
Of busted blood cells
Unraveling genetics,
Too real for
A dream, The wretched noose
Hour by hour,
Gallows of Reality.
You stopped awhile, Along This Road.
You couldn't know that my
Soul cried out to God, Salvage this
Failing Flesh!
                      There's not much we can do,
                                         Not yet.
        In the meantime, we'll poison the disease
                 With arsenic. We'll cripple your
                  Immune System: Out with the bad
                           Make way for the good.
             Hope for the best - don't be afraid.
But when I was just eight,
more than forty years ago,
The Mustard failed my Father, you see.
You stopped awhile Along This Road,
A stranger bearing Treasure:
The ultimate Gift, the ultimate Risk.
You couldn't know how much I loved
My sons, how much they needed Me,
And I Them,
Like my Father before.
How could you know?
You couldn't know how much
Of the Road ahead lay unpaved.
You couldn't see what I had glimpsed:
The terror of the blank page.
Yet you must have known
What it's like
To stare into
Grim faced
Death that
Gripped me fast,
Punched me in the
Gut each time the blood
Tests came back bad, as I
Prayed they wouldn't, bad
News flowing down the page in
Shrinking numbers, purple as the pinpoint
Bruises - petechia - a pox up both legs, as
Fatigue swamped my body but not my spirit.
Yet you stopped awhile Along This Road
To share a part of your essence:
The burgundy elixir of life
I studied dripping into my vein
Late one early-June night ... 2004
Four years later,
Your stem cells blaze deep at my core;
I sense you there-faceless, nameless-
Those double twisting strands, the threads of your
Essence entwining with mine, from a
Woman, a friend, who, in the face of
Pain and no small risk, stopped and
Walks with me
Along This Road.

William Feltt teaches first-year writing at Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL. He has two sons and is single. Currently, along with a batch of short stories in progress, he's writing a memoir titled, Just Left of Center.