I visited a nursing home three weeks ago 

and this might sound awful 

scratch that this is the worst thing I have ever said 

and probably the worst thing I will ever say


every single person in that building was already dead.

There were corpses rotting from the inside out

being sat in front of television screens 

and wheeled around to sit next to their skeleton friends.


I could see the worms swimming around behind their eyes 

and going in and out of their ears,

devouring what was left of their sanity and humanity, 

and I got this feeling they could infect me with the worms.


And what if I got worms and they ate away at my skull 

and swallowed my brain, 

the only thing that gives me worth.

what would I be good for? writing about worms?


And then I felt guilty that I was more worried about myself 

than I was with comforting these corpses, 

and lying to them that they look so young and beautiful,

when I think I might see some gangrene growing and 


God what if it gets on me and I am sentenced 

to bed rest while I wait to die 

when all I really want is for someone to take a shotgun 

and blow my brains out – worms and all.


And the nurses were so nice but 

they were infected with the worms too

and it was a slow spread

but the worms were already feasting on their lives.


Why would they do this and live in a coffin?

And smell like acetone when they go home 

to pretend they aren’t sick with claustrophobia 

and age and osteoporosis and probably skin eating bacteria?


When I visited the home I saw an eyeball falling 

out of the skull of a corpse and rolling 

across the cheap linoleum 

towards my foot and i saw the iris touch my converse 


and I felt the necroses cover my foot and leg 

Oh God it is crawling up my whole body 

and covers my eyes and I can’t see please God 

just let me die, don’t make me suffer here. 


Emma Gail Compton

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