Dead-end Dad

Flags wave in the breezy dark
as houselights shine for no one.
Across the street below,
tired ghosts dance on closed garage doors.

My cigar glows and ash sticks to my shirt.
The wind tries to brush it away, but can’t.
My hands smell like my father’s urine
after helping him change his “shorts”
before bed, before he can let go
the swirling of his incomplete thoughts.
“This is embarrassing,” he says.
“Get over it,” I reply and his
cynical chuckle closes the loop.
“Yeah,” he says.

We never spoke much
even when the stories were vibrant and alive,
before the plaque destroyed that
which makes him complete.
His own stories are gone,
cast adrift somewhere in a Sargasso eddy
where debris and open space
writhe in eternal conflict.
My father’s brief moments of clarity
turn all too quickly to self-realization and
a resigned anger that fades as his
thoughts dead-end in the ever-changing maze,
a quark, a meson, an electron at a time.
His only remaining constant is a sweet nature,
his affable consideration that keeps him calm.

“Anything you need?” I ask.
“Just a smile,” he says.

I am smiling goodbye every time I see him.
What he’s thinking, as always, is our mystery.
He is a blank canvas every single time.

First bloom

About Jim Stewart

Writer at Butt in Chair
This entry was posted in Aging, family, Poem, Slice of Death, Slice of Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dead-end Dad

  1. You capture this frustrating mystery perfectly.

    • narble says:

      Thank you, Andra. My dad’s gone now and I feel blessed to have been there for the long goodbye. I’m sure there are other notions and observations that will bubble to the surface. They just haven’t yet.

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