The physical and emotional toll on caregivers of patients whose bodies and minds are slowly decaying is enormous. Egyptian-born poet Hedy Habra explores the painful truth of caring for a loved one in life and in death.

the ages of man

by Hedy Habra

She lives with a man she now softly calls a living dead, fingers covering her lips like a feathered fan, she barely proffers these words, feels trapped, yes, as walls shrink around her, getting closer each day. She who never had children, is nursing her no longer lover. Always by his side, rubbing his failing limbs, calming his speeding pulse. He has aged so much after his illness, she thinks, watches how his skin fails to wrap the bones, hanging in places like the folds of a handed down garment. He suddenly awakens at night anguished, fears the sandman, needs to lie next to her and hold her hand. She dreams of opening the door wide-open, of stepping out to the light, to an uninterrupted sleep.