Posts Tagged ‘illness’

My father lies in his hospital bed,
eyes unseeing, unable to do more
than open and close his hand—
a wounded bird trying to fly—
his thoughts too wispy
to gather into sentences.
And then, quite clearly,
What is wrong with me?
I tell him, We don’t know.
And then, Is it my fault?
I want to gather him
into my arms and cradle him
the way he once cradled me.
No, Dad, I say. It’s not your fault.
You’re doing so good.
And then he is lost again,
cloud-minded, moaning,
his face a storm of pain.
Outside the window, the clouds
have lost their shape. The wind
pulls their thin white veil across the blue
like a translucent sheet.
In the coming days, there will be rain.
His eyes flash open, then close.
Hi, he says, his voice warm,
full of marvel. Hi, I say,
press my hands to his chest.
I’m pouring love into you, Dad.
He hums the little two-note song
he always hums in affirmation.
He is so beautifully himself.
Then you’re going to need—
His thought evaporates.
What do I need, dad?
I’m desperate for his answer.
What do I need to pour love into you?
He says, You’re going to need—
The sentence turns cirrostratus.
I kiss his head.
I kiss whatever went unsaid.
Neither of us knows what we need.
We hold each other and reach
for what we cannot hold.
Hands open, we wing into the moment,
into love, this sky where we meet.

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One Together


weeping under the weight

of the burden, still grateful

to help carry it

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You cannot always tell by looking
what is happening. On the outside,
she is smiling, apparently flourishing.
Inside, there is a terrible secret
even she does not yet know. There
was a whisper of it, but she found it easy
to listen instead to the geese with their
raucous arrival, or to listen to the song
of the river pushing through the ice.
Okay, some part of her knows it,
but she is not yet ready to admit anything.
She is perhaps like the tree riddled on the inside
with beetles. At first glance, it looks like nothing more
than a few little holes, but under the bark
there are girdling tunnels. It will be a long time
before she will hear the soft chorus
of dry needles falling. By then,
it will be impossible not to notice
that something is very, very wrong.
By then it will be much too late.

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