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By Elaine McKinney

In the ICU waiting room
Chattering with his family…
“He’s dehydrated!
It’s because he doesn’t like water, he
Carries that little water bottle
Around all day
Taking baby sips
From that same little bottle!”

She nods in agreement. A betrayal of
Her real thoughts…

Of the other bottle and sips; of the
Memories and longings; failings
And regrets;
Depression, regression,
Suppression, repression.

So much repression.

Admittedly, she’s guilty of
Having sipped his repression.

He always liked the little water
No waste
Easy to slip in a pocket
Carry in the car
Sip inconspicuously
Give a little taste of
Care for himself.

They didn’t cause tremors, the
Incoherence; the abstinence from
Food and sustenance. They didn’t
Cause the ER trip
The crashing withdrawal
The hands restrained with wide
Plastic protective wrappings
The contorted face
The shakes and groans
The wincing and moans of this once
Stalwart sentinel.

But it really seems easier to
Chatter about them,
The little water bottles
Rather than
Everything else.