The night before my father died
I dreamed he was back home,
and I in my old room
on the third floor, and he
was calling up to me
from the bottom of the stairs
some advice I couldn’t hear
or recall the next day when,
standing over him
back in the ICU
full of the chirping of machines
we had decided to unplug,
I remembered the dream
and heard him call my name.
My father, lungs a-warble, spreads his arms on the nursing
swoops low over rough, unfamiliar terrain. The hospice nurse
ticks off procedures.
My mother signs papers with her large, lush loops, so ravishing,
more ravishing than the chicken-scratch scrawl of my father’s
clubbed now, a long-lost claw—phylogenesis recapitulated, and
Overhead, the geese tootle toward the marsh.
They’re rolling the old folks into the commons, lining them up
before the TV.
I look out the window. The geese have landed,
foraging slowly on the manicured lawn, unruffled, for now,
by organochlorides and organophosphates and their
in the rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat blood of a bird. And 2 and 4 and 2 and
my father’s bent language its own looping code, laying an egg
like a parrot,
and every so often an embarrassed embarrassed and every so
often a dammit.
“Our relationship wasn’t exactly warm and fuzzy,” my mother
behind drugstore specs. They make her look owlish.
She isn’t owlish; she’s ravishing, more ravishing than ever she
back in the days when the couch was her tether and pills were
and my father flew at her with razor blades lashed to his feet.
The hospice nurse ticks off further procedures.
The geese crop the grass; their idyll won’t last. The city, half-
is gunning for them, hatching a brood of lethal procedures
to rid itself of the soft, light bodies so hazardous to man in