A slowly dying man will show you his new, gentle attention, a posed thoughtfulness, which will shape his mind as he passes through death. But this temperament is alien to you, and to him, and you must not address it directly. He has given away his extra flesh to the charities of darkness. You are details eating like strong soap into his eyes. He has no buffer against your need to comfort him, his skull seems to be breaking toward you through his face, but that too is a false demeanor, which you must not address. You must approach him as you would someone you have lied to, or someone you have gifted beyond reason. You must wait for him to lift his hands in a vague gesture reserved for enraptured priests, bidding you to come, letting you feel in his wrongly shaped chest his pulse squeezed and thinned by tumors, his lungs clutched like a balloon a child has fallen against. What he calls spasms are labor pains. What you think is his pallor is the broken water of his grave, washing him slowly into the earth. His sweat is the caul of the seer shutting down. He will not transform to wax or plaster for you, nor turn you away from his horror. He is an infant feeling the vague drama of his mother’s life through a scrim of stretched flesh, before the forces beyond itself take hold and deliver it out against any will. I dream I can heal him by touching him, because I contain an excess of the battles with many deaths, which I transmit by resting my hand on his tumor, making it glow hot and golden in the shape of his diaphragm, dissolving the cells into a protein, which will feed him from inside, a little Eucharist of waste, an abortion of the fore life, but he will not finish as a living man. He is becoming heavy with earth, sinking into the furniture of his house, he is laying his life into the bodies of his friends the way they lay their hope away in him. He has stopped trying to remember things because memory has taken him over, occupying all the gaps leaving no room for change, like a comb, laying him flatter and finer against the skull of the Earth. We try to say things of a weight to match his weight, but he answers out of his lightness, he speaks for the dead, but with the words of the simply tired or bored, as if the moment of death will be some accident, some crash inside him, the components of his spirit abandoning the grasp of the mourners, the pall never real, the last second never quite accumulating its precision, the hands never quite getting through.