He always liked the television turned up too loud,
so loud I know the maximum volume is ’50’
and that the bar turns red, like the blood from his lungs
that gathers in tissues, scattered across the small flat.
Hearing him try to cough out proliferated cells
makes me want to cough in response, to encourage him,
that maybe if he coughs hard enough he will be cured.
and I will no longer have to feel scared and guilty.
When I go for walks in the night I hear deer barking,
a similar rasping that rattles between the pines,
over strawberry plants, through wheat, vines, and tobacco.
Gravel crunches , grass stubble too – everything is dry
except for the blood from his lungs, red as strawberries,
and soundless tears, as I cry quiet in the bathroom,
grateful that the television is turned up too loud,
trying to hide the volume of our grief for this man.