Without Tears

I knew my mother was dying

when she returned from the hospital

and sat, heavy in the armchair

woolen shawl covering the colostomy bag

 

My father had sent me away from home

It would be nice if you could stay she said

but her man’s decision was god

the boy goes back to work

I was nineteen, she forty-nine

he was stronger than the both of us

 

Later, returning on a shivery aircraft

her death hanging in the air like mist

he was waiting, this diminutive man

with my uncle, who he had always scorned,

propping him up and all he could say was

it’s my fault

 

He wrote books to save the world

on visits he would force me to listen

no one ever read them

he died at five in the morning

alone in his room, they called me

 

I rearranged the covers, closed his eyes

his uncompleted books and papers everywhere

and in his trouser pocket a wad of bills

more than I had ever held, it felt so good

 

Still, there is a part of him that I miss

thirty years later as I explain to him

look this is a computer, this a cellphone

perhaps to show him something I have written

to hear him say I’m proud of you. Only once

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© Johnmichael Simon

2008

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