Anvil clouds in the west.
My father dies in hospice
while I’m on the highway,
stuck in roadwork. 
Gaunt on the gurney.
Limbs impossibly still.
Mouth slightly open, 
as if surprised, as if saying 
ah! One eye half closed, 
the other looking up,
lit by a further light,
a sky in the ceiling. 
I touch his hand, barely 
cool. It’s only been 
an hour. At the elevator, 
I’m not ready to drop 
down the bright chute.
I go back. Bend & kiss
his hand. Outside, long
soft nails hammer the earth.

Copyright © 2022 by Willa Carroll. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 7, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.