the last poem of our acquaintance
listen up - click on the arrow
a day i came home from school
high and hungry, as i had learned
reasons to skip class.
dad, his chair in the living room
squeaked as he got up,
came into the kitchen, ornery and dulled,
normal, i didn’t look up.
i have cancer, he said, like his truck needed
needed an oil change.
the doctor says 2 months, i looked at the dishes
in the sink;
he went back to his chair, cigarettes and tv.
i made grilled cheese.
a gaping wound in his belly,
the nurse pushed him on a gurney.
black-edged dying-skin wound
sutures or bandages couldn’t repair
i was not supposed to see this.
frantically pushed him down
the ammonia acrid hall.
it was the last time i saw him.
i can’t say alive, i’m not sure he was.
the process of someone dying had begun;
the pre-grieving period was sudden and rehearsed.
all night vigils, hugs, tears, the odd prayer.
true grief would follow the
official declaration of death.
all this i missed.
i granted myself immunity.
my family huddled under their cloak of mourning
they didn’t miss me.
about 50 days later he died,
the hole rotted through his belly.
i never grieved for him,
i didn’t know how.
i couldn’t cry.
i felt guilt
later in life,
i found that grief and gave him up.
the guilt and relief remained