The last time I visit my sister in hospice, my cousin is sitting by the bed when I arrive.

My sister looks terrible and like she is suffering. She is in renal failure and her eyes are slitted against the light. She is in a hospital bed and barely eating. It takes me three days to figure out how to make her comfortable.

But when I first arrive, I say hello and hug her. She laughs and it is dark.

She doesn't want to talk. "Shall I sing to you?" I ask.

She nods.

I start singing a lullaby: I gave my love a cherry.

She shakes her head: no.

I study her. "How about Samuel Hall?"

She smiles and nods.

"My name is Samuel Hall,
Samuel Hall, Samuel Hall.
My name is Samuel Hall
And I hate you one and all
you're a bunch of buggers all
damn your eyes, damn your eyes
you're a bunch of buggers all
damn your eyes."

Another song to raise girls. We adored it, because it is unrepentant, horrible and had swears.

I killed a man tis said
and I left him there for dead
with a bullet in his head
damn his eyes

My cousin's eyes widen. "I haven't thought of that song in years." he says. He starts singing along, remembering.

They took me to the quod
They left me there by God
With a ball and chain and rod
Damn their eyes

My cousin has two children. I guess he is not raising them with the dark songs we were raised with....

The preacher he did come
And he looked so goddamn glum
As he talked of Kingdom Come
Damn his eyes

My sister is smiling, eyes slit against the light, angry.

The sheriff he came too
With his boys all dressed in blue
They're a bunch of buggers too
Damn their eyes

To the gallows I must go
With my friends all down below
Saying "Sam, I told you so."
Damn their eyes

I see Nellie in the crowd
I am shouting right out loud
I shout "Nellie, ain't you proud!
Damn your eyes!"

"Let this be my parting Nell
Hope to see you all in Hell
Hope to Hell you sizzle well
Damn your eyes!"

And my sister laughs and then she sleeps for a while, angry, angry at death.

My name is Samuel Small
My name is Samuel Hall
My name is Samuel Hall
and Johnny Cash

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