Egged on by the televisions across the hall,

walls taunt, threaten to close in. Hoping they

won’t hear, you whisper. That Mardi Gras

parade in your room at 2 a.m. should be reported;

sleep black behind your eyes has been stolen,

replaced with electric blue. Masks—and other

evidence—are in the closet marked supplies.

Atmosphere presses against my ears as if we were

diving too deep. Pulse thunders; I grab the arm

of a passing nurse, sputter clotted panic. She

spins in a slippery grace, clicks: “temporary,

not uncommon in ICU,” and whirrs away.

Your fitful hand trembles and leaps in mine.

Hallucinations bubble like nitrogen in blood,

escape your skin into the water we breathe.