Your days in the dark mute
before the television dozing
in your wheelchair
in a room
that stinks of

I want to swim you back
like a lifeguard
my arm a bandolier across
your frail chest beneath
the arm made useless
by the worst fall

(Why did you,
why did we,
let them pick you up?
Stay down: This life is over.)

Swim you back past
the college professor
who would never
have let you exist
like this

past the young father
who played horse for
the little girl riding
his back the daughter
with his eyes

to your own childhood
a thin serious boy
building crude telescopes
to ponder stars
in a darker sky

Swim you back to
the diapers you would outgrow
(not those you wear now)
through my grandmother’s womb
the soft salt of that small ocean

to an infinite
beach warm even
at night lay you there
gently relieved at last
of your specificity

a weightless grain
that would
become my father

whose body instead
I leave again
in that dark room
pausing in the beige
institutional hall
to regurgitate

what we allow
shocking my heart
back to something
I might call life

lifeguard tower



  1. Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Truth. My heart and prayers go out to your father and to you and to all who travel this path.


    1. Thank you. So many families experience the difficult, attenuated dying of a loved one. It’s the dark shadow of modern medicine’s capaciity to keep us alive past our natural expiration dates, and our collusion with that capacity.


  2. Wow. Just beautiful.


    1. Thank you. I appreciate the time you gave to writing and commenting — a gift back to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. touching
    compassion 🙂


    1. Thank you, David.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If only we could!
    There seem too few options, too many in need of rescue.
    Perhaps your inner vibrations feeling, thinking, writing this enter the larger ocean and find their way to the one who stirred those vibrations … perhaps for a moment the love will vibrate within his body … perhaps (who knows?) even reciprocated, swimming toward you …


    1. That’s a lovely thought. Thanks, Jazz.

      Liked by 1 person

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