love like this ...

painting by Paul Wright


No one answers, but I hear the TV’s drone.
I push open the door and there’s my old dad
hanging like an exhausted gymnast over the arm of the couch,
his fingers touching the floor, his pajamas on inside out.
How does he survive
the booze, the pills, the lack of food
and love? Who could love him? I love him,
but what is this? Again,
I have found him in time to take him to the hospital.
“I want to die,” he cries as I fold him into the car,
and it becomes his mantra while I drive
past the bowling alley, the gun shop.
Should I stop and buy a pistol?
“I have nothing to live for,” he says.
What can I say?
There is nothing to live for;
we make it up as we go along.
The earth didn’t have to exist,
but here it is, and here we are,
parked in the Emergency lot.
He stares fiercely out the windshield.
I touch his hand; it’s cold and scaly.
“There’s always bowling, I joke.
“I don’t bowl,” he says.
We smile at each other.
“There’s this,” I say to my father.

~by Susan Browne



soubriquet said...

It's kinda close to home, this poem. What with my mother announcing that she'll be dead by christmas. Not that there's any good reason for her to be dead by christmas, she's responding well to the chemo, but her memory's shot, so she forgets the doc telling her that she's not terminal. "Anyway", I say, "Okay, I'll get you a box... Like an old fridge-box maybe.. and when you decide the time has come, you get in. It'll save us a lot of work. Burned or buried, have you decided?" "well", she says, "I want to be buried at sea, but I don't like the idea of crabs and lobsters..." "And octopuses!" I say, "but being buried means worms, and that's nasty, I don't want to be eaten by worms." "cremated? scattered ashes?" "What if I'm not really dead? It would be horrible being burned"
"Better just delay the dying until you've decided then".

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Love the painting. Troubled by the poem.

bulletholes said...

Lived the poem. Still living it with roles reversed. Love it.

red dirt girl said...

Soubry: it takes perseverance, courage and love to 'live like this'... kudos to you and your family and much hugs! xxxx

red dirt girl said...

Cosmo! the painting IS lovely. the poem IS troubling, which are two good reasons to like them both I'm thinking... xxx

red dirt girl said...

Hi cowboy! Still living large, eh! xxx

Anonymous said...

You are scary apropos.

Sounds a but like my dad; he could have been buried with that damn TV set and not much would have changed for him (he died in March).

My mom died last week, never getting over his leaving. One of my 3 brothers was taking care of her at home as best he could. She would ask for food and not eat but a bite, took no interest in any activity not even the ubiquitous television, slept most of the time, and waited for death. I guess after 63 years two people get attached too much.


red dirt girl said...

ohhh goatman .... i'm very very sorry for your losses. hugs and xxx.