My friend had been splayed open in an astoundingly brutal operation
where golden-handed surgeons blazed trails through his chest
past lungs and liver around his stomach and under his heart to scaffold
his spine in rails of tempered steel anchored together with titanium spikes

After wedging his insides back they zipped him up and shipped him off
to the nurses whose veteraned hands would see to the hard work
their days always filled with rushing through numbed hallways
riddled with gaping doors exposing the sick lonelies awaiting verdicts

They did their best to hold back the suck of suffering
but the smothering smell of antiseptic-doused fear
permeated the very soul of that place
where I sat with my friend
dwarfed in the belly of that machine

I listened to him breathe
across that tundra of silence that separates men
Taking a wash basin some soap and warm water
I huddled close by my friend and holding his tired head
in my hand I gently washed his hair

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