By: Janna Vought
Daddy’s dying, doesn’t know
my name. Machines next to the bed
hum him a lullaby. A fly escapes
through an open window,
into the unnatural bright day. How
did we get here?
I used to be young. Now, I sit,
draped in black, haunted
by ashes of my past,
death so close, dark
embers of today.
Images on the back of his eyelids:
children, grandchildren, snapshots
captured against dim shadows, waiting:
quiet, still, merge with heaven.
Witness the shell of my father
Silence stretches between breaths,
fluttering chest, brows heavy, brown
eyes reflect mine, call of our ancestors
back to earth/ground, unpaid debt now due,
a shadow of things to come, the root
from which I grew. You built me,
every bone/curve carved
from the stars in the sky.
Lift him. Eclipse the sun, a bird
revived, ascending, hush the moans, fire
consumes bones, and then came the sun,
continuing on. Daddy, don’t die, leave me
I wrap myself in mourning.
My feet sink into his newly dug grave.
A lone blue mountain
cowers against the horizon.
Daddy lies white-faced, still
inside his casket (Father in a box).
Mother weeps. I touch
lips to his marbled cheek.
Sunlight breaks thunderheads
of my emptiness; birds continue to sing.
All things come to an end.
Daddy floats among broken clouds.
I don’t know if I believe
in God or an afterlife. After Daddy died,
I reconsidered, thought I might go after
him, try to catch up. My dog
barks at blank spaces on the wall.
I take rest on stone
benches in the cemetery,
attend church to see if Daddy’s there.
only in my dreams, dining in exotic locals,
walking along multicolored hills:
Morocco, Italy, Katmandu—
liberated. Soon I’ll forget him,
locked away in memories,
buried inside my cries.
A quiet ending.