I carried him lightly,
eighty pounds, my height,
half my weight
with enough body sense—
the old track star—
to work in my arms with the balance
of his remaining mass
as easy live weight.
It became his last voyage,
from living room to bed—
this carrying was comfort to both.
Morphine had ended months
of pain—he was genial now,
euphoric, enjoying himself,
with his daughter, and me, his son.
“You must have gotten stronger,”
he said, dismissing the loss
of body with a joke.
He knew he was on his way
out the door, and knowing was easy
though less clear for me
as I laid him down in bed
and laid myself in the twin
cold, rumpled, sour.
When hushed voices woke me
saying “He died last night,”
I couldn’t open my eyes
and lay there frozen
among the murmuring women.
He had slipped silently
through the door that now
he left open for me.

This Issue

April 7, 2005