Lesléa Newman: “The Last Supper”

Northampton, Mass. Poet Laureate Lesléa Newman is the author of over 50 books for children and adults. This poem is reprinted with permission from her latest poetry collection, Nobody’s Mother (Port Orchard, Wash.: Orchard House Press, 2009). Read my review here.

The Last Supper

Victor was dying
to go out
one last time
so I yanked
a t-shirt over his head
that said, “I’m Looking for Mr. Right
Away” and rolled
his wheelchair
down the bumpy street
to his favorite place to eat:
a dumpy pizza joint
with a lovely view of the sea.
Our waiter was a prince
and didn’t wince at the sight
of Victor’s frail frame,
be he failed to notice
his sexy shirt and didn’t flirt
with him either. “Something
to drink?” he asked,
all business behind
the safety of his order pad.
“Coke” Victor rasped
and then gasped for breath.
“Regular or Diet?”
That got Victor’s attention.
He raised his phantom eyebrows
straightened his bony shoulders
and cocked his hairless head
as if this was a life
or death decision.
Our waiter waited
wrapped in the banner
of his impossible youth
the truth of which was painful
to see. Victor did not look
away. He took the time
it took to utter his first
complete sentence
of the year. “My dear
boy,” Victor poked
an Ichabod Crane finger
into his own concave chest.
“Do I look like someone
who has anything left
to lose?” Victor croaked
and then choked on a throat
full of phlegm. “Ahem.”
Silence from the boy
toy who might have gone home
with Victor a few years ago
when he was the queen
of Provincetown and ate boys
like this for breakfast.
Dinner was a sad affair:
Try as he might,
Victor couldn’t bite
the slice of pizza I held
to his chapped lips. Small sips
of Coke were all he could manage
and the ride home hurt his hips.
Ships passing in the night
I thought as another man
was pushed toward us
waving from his wheelchair
as though he were floating by
in a gay pride parade. Victor stayed
with us for two more weeks
though he did not speak
or drink again. The End.