Some deaths take                  the slow turn            in the light from dusk to night.

My father takes his               time                            is trying to befriend him.

When he goes                        with it                         he will go.

He will trust death                as a friend                 near the end of his life.

There were not many           late nights                  he did his drinking at home.

And worked one job             for 50 years                 he didn’t gamble or cheat.

Was home for dinner           every night                 he listened to us talk in silence.

Now death walks by             his side                        of the bed sinks, his body

Weighs the mattress            down                           the hall it breaks into a sprint.

I witness it encroach            step by step                he eases into lethargy.

Hair and skin looking so     thin                              was he always so thin?

A creaking sound walks       around the house     I hear the weight of delirium.

He can’t sleep with               the noise                     of him gasping echoes.

When he awakes                   he dreams                  his father yelling, Get Up.

Someone’s at the door         knocking.

Copyright © 2022 by Celeste Guzmán Mendoza. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

                                  it  used  to  be  that  i  would  write  to  enact  a
                                  desire  for  isolation.  it  was  a  way  to  say.   i
                                  want  to  be  left  alone.  to  my  thoughts.  with
                                  my words.  i  want you to leave me alone.  cant
                                  you see  that im trying.  im trying  to write.  im
                                  thirsty. im  writing  these  words to quench my
                                  thirst.  i  write alone in the hopes  that i  would
                                  write  myself into exhaustion.  into sleep.  i did
                                  just that. and that  was  when  you came to me.
                                  carrying   water   in   your  mouth.  you  leaned
                                  into.   you  passed  it   along   from   mouth   to
                                  mouth.  our  lips  did not touch. this was not  a
                                  kiss.  a kiss would not  have led me  here.  you
                                  woke  me  from  sleep by  quenching my  thirst.
                                  this  lasted  but  a  minute.  i  am  thirsty  again.
                                  today  im  writing.  its  usually to someone.  im
                                  writing  something. i  want  to hear it read  out
                                  loud.   i  want to see it on a page,   in a book.   i
                                  want to see you inside  these words.  where are
                                  you. i am thirsty. how are you.

Copyright © 2022 by Truong Tran. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.