The Basket I Bring to the Hospital to Stop You From Dying
Wrench, pliers, hacksaw, long screwdriver
for messing deep inside bodies
I come to you stinking
of gasoline and two stroke oil
to arouse your appetite.
Okay, it’s not a basket,
it’s a five-gallon plastic tool bucket,
but here are peanuts and cashews like the ones
you’ve spilt on the kitchen floor. No,
I didn’t sweep, no I didn’t vacuum, no
I didn’t do the dishes. I’ll lay
your Carhartt coveralls across the chair,
jangle the keys to the pole barn and your Ford 8-N
because I’m not plowing the road—
let the snow pile up,
let the neighbors long for you.
Here are your boots, the worn Red Wings
made in San Francisco on 200-year-old lasts.
If you die, I won’t bury you
with them—I’ll wear them myself
with six pairs of socks and become the worst
sort of widow, hardly bathing,
layering winter clothing over summer.
Here are the Haynes Manuals
for every car you’ve owned, novels
by Wodehouse, essays by Twain to remind you
life is funny, photos of the flood we survived,
photos of thirty birds under the hedge.
Now wake up! Resurrect!
Let me zombie-walk you out of here,
support your slow weight to the elevator,
where you can slump in the corner,
and out to our old Dodge where you’ll collapse
on sweet cracked vinyl.
by Bonnie Jo Campbell, a Portage Michigan author and poet. Campbell was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2009 for her collection of short stories “American Salvage”. On Saturday April 28 she will participate in a discussion about writing and hotel room phobia at the Michigan Notable Book Award ceremony in Lansing. Joining her are two National Book Award winners Jaimy Gordon and Jesmym Ward, both with a Michigan connection. Read more about Campbell here.