Double Take

15 Feb


A nightmare occurred.
…but not quite.

For years, I suffered
from arrhythmia,
which caused my heart to stop
for short intervals.
I would just blank out.

I went to the ER with one
of these events and was admitted.
They wanted to do an EKG.
Dizzy, I called for a nurse,
but flat-lined and blacked out.
Because I had no detectable brain activity,
the advance order was made
to let me go without further defibrillation,
the sheet was lifted over my face,
pronounced dead,
and wheeled to the morgue.

I observed this hovering above myself
with a thin umbilical cord
of blue light still attached
to my covered body.

I lay in the clammy cold and heard
they said, “in about an hour,
they’ll be here
to pick up the body.”

Two men in black arrived.
Unceremoniously, I was trundled
into a long raven-black hearse,
I tried to scream:
“I’m here!
I’m not dead yet!”
But no sound
would come out.

They wheeled me
naked into a formaldehyde scented
room with that faint dead-fish smell,
where a smiling mortician poked
a 6-inch needle into my heart,
then put it in his ashtray and left.

Two sinister fellows entered, different
from those that picked me up.
One said to the other,
…this guy’ll do.
He’s a dead ringer,
and can take his place.

They dressed me up,
put me in a casket, and I heard
them giving orders to someone:
“We can’t show this galloots body because
make-up won’t cover his rigor mortis.
This must be a closed affair.”
There was a longish pause… then,
those liturgical words:
“Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.”
An elevator sound, I was descending,
down–down– then, thud…Silence…
…but right then, my consciousness
was resurfacing, awake, my heart
found its rhythm. I was vigilant,
but why so dark?
Where was I? The stuffy air smelled
like a new car, hospital-like, earthy,
thick, and warm.

Sick to my stomach, I realized
that with my nails
I would write my last words
on the ceiling of this confined space.
Shrieking defiantly, I scratched into
the pearly satin with my bloody fingers:

“I have reached a place where
few living souls have come.
In this claustrophobic space,
to death i’ll succumb.
The worms cannot have me
until I’ve written once more,
I’ll scream in futility,
express my last horror
as entombed I pass
through Grim Reaper’s door.”

Suddenly, I awoke and realized
it was all a dream, how relieved I felt.
I had goosebumps and chucked to myself.
“What an absurd horrible nightmare!
I must’ve eaten some cheese
too close to bedtime.”

But wait… wait a gosh-darn minute!

Why is it pitch black this morning?
Why are silky satin walls surrounding
my face on all sides?


Copyright – Brian Hodgkinson Jr., 2007

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Posted by on February 15, 2021 in Poetry


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