Five days earlier, this man struggled to breathe
and we all came to listen to the sound of him drowning in his lungs.
The nurses told us
he was a liar.
The doctors told us
he was false.
And we saw him walking through the halls smoking
when he told us that he could not stand.

I spoke to him
and learned that he was allergic to amoxicillin.
And that there was nothing like a crack high.
He told me that he had been married with children
and that he had girls on the side,
with children also.

When we took his cigarettes away,
he cursed us.
When we told him he could not go,
he accused us.

But today, this man is dying.

Perhaps, I think, it comes too late.
Even now, beyond the man’s yellow eye
I see something like malice –
as if he would burn the world with his passing.

Still, I am the last person he will see in this world
and I lay my hand upon him,
look down upon him
as he fights for his last breath and dies.

And this here is the final common pathway
that unites us all,
the end that waits for the worst and best of us,
to taste the air one last time
and then fall
and lie in dust.

Toby Gwak, Class of 2006