Sherpa

Someone has to haul
all our crap up hill,
make appointments, cancel,
reschedule. Make excuses. Cover
when the son’s face goes red and blotchy,
nose stuffs up. Or, more alarming,
he shakes in a warm shower,
shakes under the quilt, shakes
out the words I’ll be all right
from a sheet white face gone angular,
then I don’t know. Someone
calls 911, ignores the neighbors’
stares, fits herself into a side seat
in the ambulance, says the word heroin
out loud, holds the puke pan, admits

she’s his mother. Someone sits
with a panicked patient now pacing
in wait for the psych consult, neuro,
clergy. Someone steps to the curb
outside the hospital to hail a cab
while the son gathers his bathrobe around him
and shuffles to the door in slippers brought
from home. Someone calls the father,
says yes cancel everything and come
so we can sit and weep together and alone
and hang on, as if his life depends on it.

Published in Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry and featured in Star Boy