We heard about the elderly aunt
of a friend who after sudden illness
fell into a coma— They took
her home and tended to
her body, turning her first one
way and then the other to keep
bedsores from developing; a nurse
came regularly to check on feeding
tubes and catheters, to note
down vitals in a log. Her hair
grew, and needed to be washed.
And so did fingernails, which
had to be clipped. Season
after season she slept, oblivious
to the ceremonies of the daily, to
holidays and weather and elections.
There was the earthquake in ’90, when
everyone ran out into the streets
in panic and forgot about her.
Miraculously, she survived that too.
And then, one day, five or six
years later, we were told she simply
sat up in bed, blinked, and asked for
a drink of water— which goes to show
how little we understand of the body’s
systems. What bird or worm thrashes
in the dense thickets of the ear
before bursting free? what comes to life,
pushing through blocked pathways, courier
trying to make a guaranteed delivery?