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We are going sailing
My partner says to me
“Invite him if you want.”

Then I am busy for a while

I think of calling, then forget

He was not at chorus on Monday

At last I say,
“I haven’t called. We’ll just sail.
Just us today.”

I haven’t called
because he was not at chorus on Monday

He is frail
55 years of camels
two packs a day
as if each cigarette
destroyed one alveolus
in his lungs
one tiny air/blood interface
built to exchange oxygen
and carbon dioxide
the loss is cumulative

He is frail
he is proud that the choral director
says, “I need you.”
He can’t sustain
but his entrances and time
are the best
among the basses.
They need him.

is our winter link
two introverts
we hug at the start of chorus
sing for two hours
and talk for a few minutes at the end

Occasionally we go for a beer
I invite him for dinner
but he comes less and less
he often does not feel well at night

He looks smaller at chorus
this season
this is normal in emphysema
the body sheds weight
too much tissue to oxygenate
too hard for the lungs
and the heart, working overtime
to make up the difference
he is blessed with low blood pressure
genetic, from his father,
tough English stock,
otherwise I think he’d be dead

I didn’t call
before we went sailing
because I am afraid

I’ve driven out before
when he has not answered the phone
for a day or two
wondering if I would find him dead

I didn’t call
before we went sailing
because he was not at chorus on Monday
because if he didn’t answer today
I would not go