This is My Father
written by: Michael H. Brownstein
I always thought you would outlive me
Lifting heavy boxes past the age of seventy,
Carrying them fifty feet without rest
As if you were white water riding a crest
Of a wave digging talons into sand—
You were always the one I could count on to stand
As my corner man in the boxing ring
Or tell me a lie when I was asked to sing
At this function or that, knowing my throat
Was stale bread, textured oat.
Yet now I find you hands vibrating like a machine
Calculating strokes of rhythms to the extreme
Cascading past the nurse’s station in the doctor’s care.
I left work early wondering if I dare
Peek in to see you beyond the open door.
You smile, plant heavy white stocking feet to the floor:
I’m OK, you tell me, my hands are racing,
And you shove your finger to your chest as if tracing
A child’s picture shaded with red
An intricate design with a loose thread.
My father who writes rhymes with paper and pen,
suddenly wonders if he will control his fingers again.
His pen slips and slides, the paper falls to the floor,
his muscles jerk and dance, his hands at war.
Help me to write this, he tells me and tries to smile.
I’m already on it. I’ve always admired his style.
There’re therapies for him to do, medications to take,
I know him too well. All he desires is to end this mistake.
Yes, he still wants to lift heavy boxes past the age of seventy,
And carry them fifty feet without rest, without penalty.
Michael H. Brownstein
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