My roommate calls me at 3:30 AM from his bedroom
on the opposite side of the house, he tells me
of a sudden sink hole, took out sections of local highway
and stopped traffic for miles, then he tells me
of a Tampa man who was swallowed up entirely
by a sinkhole, no trace of his body was ever found.
He worries about such things: sinkholes, proliferation
of pythons and dying alone. A 50-year-old bachelor, the only woman
he ever fancied moved to Texas, no forwarding address.
One of three brothers, one of three sons, he tells me, one Sunday
his oldest brother choked him unconscious onto the kitchen floor
just to see what might happen. Never any explanation. never an apology.
A zookeeper, he tends to wild creatures, bred in captivity,
he tells me he gives eye drops to rhinos, makes a cup out
of a banana peel and there in hides pills for the water buffalo.
He spoils my three dogs with baby talk, he croons to them
Where have you been all my life or We’re just one
big happy family. They wait at the door, quiver at his touch.
He checks on a coworker who routinely swears she’ll stop but still
drinks, falls and passes out. He finds her face down on the kitchen floor,
dried blood in her hair. Her three bewildered dogs, flea-ridden and starving.
He worries that she will die, that no one will find her for days
that the dogs will have to be given away, or worse, so
he mops her floor, helps her to bathe, supplies cartons of Marlboros.
He worries about his own sinkholes of age, loneliness,
and of disappearing, never being found. I give assurances
but we both know I cannot keep my promise to outlive him.