Penultimate

Penultimate

You could no longer swallow, so after they finally let us say no
to the tubes, they wrapped you in white and wheeled you
out into what felt like a plastic lozenge but was also
the only way home.

It was a bitter day, and the white just thin
cotton–the gurney spindling and shaking
in the wind, the curb too high, the door too slow, nothing fast enough
in that bright blow–

so I, having flown down from winter,
wedged my woolen hat
around your head, armed your chest
with my coat
but they were women’s wear, the hat crocheted
with big petal flowers, and you
my father,
and as I worried that you’d die in them, the word dignity
ricocheting about my head, I determined that you would not die,
not on that
way home, and making (maybe) some kind of joke,
laid my head gently gently
against yours, the hat brim whiskering
my cheek

while your eyes, slitted, tried
to smile, while mine kaleidoscoped time,
and as the ambulance began its swerves,
the wagon swinging even though it did not race, I held to some
metal rail, and you to something
else, and the heat
came on at last
with the engine,
and we made it
all right.

 

***************************

Draft poem for Brendan’s wonderful prompt on Real Toads to write about the penultimate, or other related matters–best to read the post itself.  Drawing and photo of drawing mine.  All rights reserved. 

If I have time and will may try to post a few new (drafty!) things to make up missed days in April. (Sigh.)  Congrats to the stalwart who have posted every day this month! And congrats to others too who have done their best! 

Explore posts in the same categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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13 Comments on “Penultimate”

  1. Jim Says:

    At home, from which to leave this home forever. You told it nicely, K. It reminded me of our trip to Omaha to see Mom one last time. As we descended there was a sea of puffy clouds out the window. The lady across the isle said she ‘always’ thought of an angel siting on each puff.
    Mom died just before we touched down.
    ..


  2. This is really powerful and tender and I’m sure your strength and compassion meant the world to him. Especially adored “while mine kaleidoscoped time”…

    also I think you misread mine – it was easier to believe as a child… 🙂

  3. M Says:

    makes me think of the last time I saw my dad. maybe once more, into the breach ~


  4. This transports us to time and place, offers humour in a dark moment and then surprises with release. I feared the worse.

  5. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    You wrench my heart. I know this kind of moment too well. Your truthful writing conveys it perfectly.


  6. This is so real and so tender, the way you are coping with that moment. Love how you focus on the clothing and his dignity…


  7. This is heartbreaking, K. The hat keeps on popping into mind, and the face of the speaker trying to hold it together…

  8. Brendan Says:

    THIS is the Manic Daily we have so missed — direct, simple, bittersweetly devastating. This penultimate moment makes whatever ending so much more powerful. Because of this. The father-daughter relationship transformed to this diminished moment of two frail humans sharing this moment toward the end. Amen.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Brendan–thanks so much for your very kind comment. There is a middle d in that manic–manic D daily–and it’s the deep depression part that’s been very difficult the last few months. I so appreciate your kind comments, and the great prompt, and your own honest and thoughtful poems. k.

  9. sanaarizvi Says:

    I agree with Magaly, and echo her sentiments. It’s very difficult to hold it together at a crucial time like this…

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I spoke on the phone to my father two days before he died. He went as he always wanted to, quickly. He was brushing his teeth and then he was gone. I still have his phone number on my phone list. I can’t let go of it.


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