Where Are You Now?

by Naomi Shihab Nye
Nye. Transfer. Where Are You Now
I position my head on the pillow where you told your last folktale, mixing donkey, camel, mouse, journey, kitchen, trees, so the story grew jumbled, uncharacteristically long. I listened from the other small bed thinking, not about the story, but, it's the last one I'll hear from this voice, remembering two and four and six when this voice calmed me every night, thinking, how will I live without this voice? At one point, you hallucinated. Politics came in, a rare speck of religion, even a bad nurse you'd had at the clinic, frustration of long illness tangling with the tale, Oh Dad, you've been so brave, to which you replied, What else can I do? and returned to the comforting donkey, bucket of olives, smoke curling up from twig fire over which anyone, a lost girl, a wanderer, a dying man, could warm his hands.