Amanda Auchter

The Sister Wakes with a Tube in her Throat

2006

                                                                        After
the Christmas tinsel was taken down, after

the Mylar balloons began their slow sag
                            from ceiling to hospital tile, the sister
woke with a tube in her throat. A plastic tongue

reaching into her, its ridged grooves smelling
               of her long sleep. She could not speak
of her hunger for sugared bread, of water,

of the itch on her fractured right ankle. Of how
                            she remembered

the rain-dark street, headlights, the sound
of glass glittering the ground. Or how

she remembered nothing
after the field, the taste of grass in her

                                        mouth, how its earth-sweetness filled
her nostrils. Among the cards and potted plants,
                the rosary wrapped around her

wrist, the tube snaked through her, the whole of her
                            mouth too small to contain the rising

and falling of a breath not her own. The air
                           caught in her teeth, bruised
past taste buds and soft palate, the tube

humming its artificial lullaby
through the tonsils and tongue where

her mouth’s red floor opened into the dark.