Man Praying—Encroachment

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.