--Don't stop now, the doctor says as if she could.

This face turning upward toward her, moving on, hands behind waiting for what they call shoulders as when in the hospital in Germany her friend's mother with the G.I. eyes was being turned at last sores in a yellow line along her skin she looked up at Laura with the same face as if to say do you see? Do you see this now? The last of her hair was brushed over her ears, her head now like her mother's, I am, she told the nurses stiffly, half American, as though it would help. And Laura was there with her friend with the viola voice and the bangs and the smell that is her own and not her own watching this all, watching the skin grow yellow as though from a lack of green food and touching it in the hospital almost at the end when she was two weeks away from the airplane ride home. Nothing had stopped that day on the futon with the Bern clock hung on a tack noisy and Laura was as close as ever and closer even to this lying on the futon with her friend on the hard wood floor. Das bett ist stark, Laura's friend's mother in hospital had said stretching out her hand to Laura, not knowing which was her daughter, as though she could take her away or keep her from going.

--Here we go, the doctor says and what they call shoulders wrench through.

She felt the coldness there already in that yellow skin with sores reaching towards her through the metal rails, the coldness still deep down but moving upward -- here we go -- and damp, clammy, as though she was ever so slightly soaked through and through, a slow plunge, head down, pressed-together palms praying in a triangle above her head -- here we go -- toward the water, her family on the side and far below, her stopped brother, her husband with his outstretched hands taking hold above the wet baby's old knowing face, Laura's friend's mother with the G.I. eyes stretching her cold damp hand through the metal railing, and knowing--here we go, here she is--knowing all the while the hard surface stinging below and the thump with a piece coming out of him and this now coming out of her, sloppy, messy, wet, parts unformed, and sliding through liquid, uneasy, ripping, expanding its edges, it is life, and the cold outstretched hand through the railing wanting not to go, and she knows this too on the scratchy surface where she waits with the others waiting below that if she does not jump now she will no never jump.

Copyright 1995
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