They’ve been watching him try to catch his breath,
to breathe, five years, since his seventieth.
He drags portable oxygen around,
to dinner, to plays. He is never found
without his gear to help him suck air.
He dresses like a fashion plate, with flair,
a rose in his lapel, a scarf draped just
so, his glasses sparkle, he will adjust
his silver mustache like Hercule Poirot.
He loves to read, lately it’s Tom Clancy,
exotic adventures catch his fancy.
He’s enthusiastic about what he’s read,
never loses interest because death’s ahead.
If he’s missing a button, he will sew
one on, learned as a marine long ago.
He still pulls weeds, gets a healthy glow.
Gasping, he’ll climb on his exercycle,
an effort, his most difficult obstacle.
His doctor forecast his death years ago,
but he’s fighting his last fight, won’t let go.
His old wife and his children do not know
how they’ll bear it when he cannot say “No.”
We think of him as a fine example
of a man whose spirit’s unquenchable.