One month to the day
is when I finally dream of him alive
not counting half-awake forgetfulness
I should tell Dad about
We are both in hospital sharing a room
perhaps it is another accident
my reasons are vague, the mild, hopeful complaints
of hospital dramas where the patient goes home
And I cannot remember our conversations
In the dream, I can’t remember how I got there
which sounds like something serious, actually
Dad and I actually talked, five or six weeks ago
about how tired he was of the hospital
I recalled my own stay, the connection
even I knew was limited – but all I could offer
I almost got away with it. He grinned
“but you were getting better.”
He didn’t know what kind of body to expect
he just hoped for legs that worked.
And it’s only when I wake up
that I remember Dad is gone
from the hospital for good
Dad is gone for good.
My grandfather at the dinner table of his son-in-law’s farmhouse:
Saltines, sardines, turkey sandwiches, potato salad, jello molds.
The progressive potluck of his hardtack life, coming as it did
toward something like luxury.
The luxury was to sit down – all of his sons and daughters
under the roof, everyone getting along. My father telling
a story about the 1950s that everyone there
except the grandchildren lived through. Laughter.
Even in my dream I am the little man
who has to point out the obvious.
Whispering to him, so as not to upset everyone:
“Granddaddy, you’re dead.”
He gave me a disappointed look,
which I at first took for embarrassment.
We were suddenly in a field.
It could have been Egypt, but it followed the contours
of my uncle’s pasture. A sunset of the deepest indigo,
a cross in the distance.
Not the cross at the top of the church,
nor an old rugged cartoon rendition,
but two perfect lines of darkness
intersecting above the crest of the hill.
Neither one of us spoke a word.
I have never dreamed of him since.
My father at the breakfast table with Mom,
hanging up the phone: “Well, Dean is gone.”
My mother’s damn-you tears: how can you?
What else could he do? The time he called
to tell me about our friend who’d been
electrocuted, we were crossing the state line,
my wife and I, the young childless couple
heading back from vacation, and he said:
“There’s no good way to tell you this…”Read More »