Hell Upon Hell

Hell Upon Hell

i called my aunt
she's 82
and after a couple
of broken femurs
she can barely get off the couch
anymore

she spends all day
stuck the couch
contorted
in front of the tube
while her husband
tries 
doing laundry
making food
and going to the store

"i feel worthless" she said

now
she even has to wake her husband
in the middle of the night
to help her out of bed
so she doesn't soil herself

"i can't even allow him a decent night's sleep" she said

her husband
a man of the community
in more ways than one
driving their son
to success 
that was never 
in his cards
the father
her husband
my uncle
a lifelong
community server
stuck now
at home
too

and she said
she can't leave the house
anymore
unless she's
in a wheel chair
but it doesn't matter much
since the only times she leaves
are to see
her doctors

i felt genuinely sad and defeated
like always
when i can't ignore anymore
how the game's
overwhelmingly rigged
in hell's favor

then i asked my aunt
about the rest
of the family
she mentioned her daughter
my cousin
who had a baseball sized tumor
removed from her brain
over a year ago

she said
she's recovered well
though there's residual problems
but
they're considering
taking away her benefits
including insurance
since she could sit at a computer
and do something
for a living 
now that she's
recovered

she said
her daughter
at 57
without a lot of skills
if she loses her insurance
will have to pick it up
on her own
at a cost 
more
than she'll ever
be able to make
but she'll have to do it
cause the cost
of treating
the residual problems
from having a baseball sized tumor
removed from her brain
is even worse

"so what's a person supposed to do?" she asked

what a shitshow
i thought
what hell
all around
i thought

even before the tumor
my cousin
always seemed to have it rough
bad marriages
a kid in prison
and when out
always
strung out
and laborious jobs that never panned out
no money
no decent men
and parents as upstanding citizens
who made it clear
they desperately wanted her
to be more
like them

then my aunt told me
how
she and her daughter
despite their troubles
still can't
get along

"like cats and dogs" she chuckled
"the ways it's always been"

again 
i felt cheated
and defeated
wondering why
an acknowledgement
an understanding
of mutual suffering
doesn't lead
to something else

perhaps
suffering's 
too strong a word
for what they're both 
going through

it may be too strong
but it's probably
pretty close
and i can't imagine
why
in the midst of so much suffering
they still can't refrain
from giving one another
even more
suffering

i dunno
i think 
maybe
people just get used to their suffering
they find ways of appreciating it
maybe even savoring it
once they've decided
there's nothing else

sometimes
i feel
like i'm trapped
in a bosch painting
or sartre's play
i'm trapped
with nowhere to go
nothing to do
except crawl under
the dirty carpet
and hide
and weep
at this whole goddamned
predicament

and sometimes
i wish
i'd never made that call
to check up
on my family
like i'm 
supposed to

then again
theirs
is a reality
of a kind
i don't get 
just sitting here
with my coffee
and keyboard

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