Labored and shallow,
a respirator kept the last vestige
of breath on a regimented pace.
Inhalation and exhalation mechanized;
kept the plane of life still in view
for eyes closed and mortified.
All sense of pulse was just
a faint memory, and suddenly
the sound of a father's voice was hard to recall.
The strength of it nestled in a heart
so deeply that it defied fibrillations.
The ashen hue of his drawn cheekbones
made the vision of him indistinguishable.
Erratic and broken now, each gasp begged
to be his last. A faint squeeze
of a clutching hand flashed the image
of your "hero" walking you across the street
for the first time. Now as he crossed,
it was your grip that led the way.
There came a gurgle; a guttural gag.
And suddenly the room fell silent.