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From a Distance

Some people live their parent’s passing

like ghosts

winding and unwinding bandages

filling glasses, emptying bedpans

kissing gray foreheads

            whispering candle blessings


Not I.  Distance my anesthetic, I flew back

a thousand days to mother’s funeral

my father a shell shocked victim

clutching his torn clothing repeatedly

his muttering I could have done more

should have done more

            lent no illumination


I listened, did not understand


Then came his own passing.  Five a.m.

a distant phone call Your father is dead

a small bedroom, piles of uncompleted manuscripts,

clothes hung neatly over a chair

the synagogue he had attended now dusty echoes

consoling itself with old men and prayer books


I left clasping a sheaf of quotations

in a language that looked like shared guilt,

a face that appears in my mirror

which never leaned out to kiss my own

passing now like a memory

            a wisp of disappearing cloud

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© Johnmichael Simon



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