His name was flashing from white to yellow on the OR board (yet again)

Ready for transport from the ICU then back to it (hopefully, if all goes very well)

And a trudge down the too-long corridor (who thought that was a good idea?)

I walk into his room, expecting to him to be alone. But now, there is a woman.

Eleven times he has gone to the operating room, with over-the-phone explanations,

With disembodied voices, hurried, confused, giving medico-legal consents.

This time, as I unceremoniously stroll into this darkened piece of his world

She is there, in the corner. She is washing her hands, as if she’d just touched

Something poisonous—vigorous, intentional, thorough. I introduce myself, waiting

For her to tell me who she is. Rather, she approaches me, and leans (very close)

She nearly whispers “I don’t think he would want to be like this, ” and holding

Her hands to her face, ashamedly admits what she sees as a defeat, a letting go

Of her responsibilities and a realization that she has no more room for hope.

Even as I nod, and try so hard to look sympathetic, to stay in this moment

With her, I feel my eyes darting to the clock on the wall, thinking of the time.