For Ed, Who Died on His Way to the Super Bowl
When he was thirty-nine, my cousin’s son,
who had received free tickets to the game,
died when his wheelchair van went up in flame.
The trip was meant to let him have some fun
as ALS was squeezing out his breath.
Instead, his parents, in the car behind,
witnessed their other son get badly burned
failing to rescue Ed, who burned to death.
Don’t tell them, in your most consoling voice,
it would be worse to watch him waste away.
Don’t say he’d rather die that fast than stay
to smother slowly. No one had a choice.
Susan McLean, a retired professor of English, has two poetry books, The Best Disguise (winner of the Richard Wilbur Award) and The Whetstone Misses the Knife (winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize), as well as a book of poetic translations of Latin poems by Martial, Selected Epigrams. She is the editor of poetry translations for Better Than Starbucks.