"Queen of Gonzo Leslie What (Olympic Games) drags love from its gooey, schmaltzy rut and takes it for a joyride in this exuberant collection. …Each tale grabs readers and demands they rethink how they see the myriad forms of love."
–Publishers Weekly Starred Review
WHY I WASH THE DEAD
Originally published in Parabola, Copyright 2002 by Leslie What
The first time I touched a dead man, I was twenty-one, a student nurse on a rotation to ICU, bathing an elderly man whose failed heart required a pacemaker to spark his pulse. He was critically ill, unconscious, sheet pale, with a blue tinge to his lips.
On the monitor, a green line traveled like a fast train across the screen. Every second, the train jumped its tracks to climb over a peak. The peak took shape, then faded away. The machine beeped once a second, a now familiar sound because of television medical shows; at the time, it was a disorienting mechanical heartbeat. I washed my patient's face and neck, dipped the washcloth in the basin, and spread warm water across his chest.
My supervisor, a kindly RN with the compassion of a hundred mothers, watched me for a few seconds before placing one hand upon my shoulder.
"You don't need to finish," she said. "He's dead."
Read the rest here.
DOG EAT DOG
Copyright 2010 by Leslie What