“Parkinson’s (Father)”

Parkinson’s (Father)

My brain, see, now has to consciously
tell my feet to move.

I mean, he tries a laugh, your brain
always tells your feet to move
on some level, but now
I have to remind them how.

I do see what he means soon enough, as
my father, the opener of all
that needs to be opened, the keeper
of all that needs to be kept safe, targets a key towards a door
as one might aim a dart,
his forearm moving back and forth as if to throw it,
though he pushes–here–here–trying spots about the knob
as one might poke a needle into fabric
backing a button, pricking one’s way to its eyes,
or as one might thread the eye
of the needle itself, poignantly.

But the disease progresses, as territorial
as Genghis Khan, and soon all
the buttons in his world are blocked, refuse
to be battened, will not be pushed,
until finally, his own eyes seem locked
behind the placket of stiff lids.

I see the strain of forehead, the
conscious manipulation of muscle, nerve,
above his pushed chest, until at last
the marled blue of his pupils targets
our own. I love you, he says, the opener
of all that needs to be opened, the keeper
of all things safe.



I wrote the above a few years ago now, but have edited it a bit and am reposting it for Brendan McOdrum’s wonderful prompt on Real Toads and for father’s day.

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8 Comments on ““Parkinson’s (Father)””

  1. Oh the weight of a disease like that claiming your father… the way you describe his desperation in controlling his movements is simply heartbreaking…

  2. Brendan Says:

    Perfect poem for the challenge, Karin–perfect poem. Only a daughter would see how the father who opened all things would be so tragically turned by Parkinson’s. And there’s a willfulness here that transcends the difficulty, in part in the man who keeps aiming for the buttonhole and the daughter who hears I Love You and knows he is still doing his job.

  3. Oh Karin, my favourite of the responses to this prompt. “The opener of all that needs to be opened, the keeper of all things safe”……..perfect closing. His journey is one of courage, your poem one of pure love. A wonderful write.

  4. Jim Says:

    My uncle died of Parkinson’s, it was sad. When we would visit he would sit at the end of a seating area and listen. He didn’t talk. I also remember him when he took AND SHOWED much interest in us young ones.
    I also did church visiting with an older gentleman with the disease. On Monday nights we would visit the visitors of our church. He trembled badly all the 20+ years I knew him. Most could not understand him but I understood every word he said. He died at age 99.

  5. Kerry Says:

    You describe the terrible onslaught of this disease so well, Karin. It made me shudder to think of it. ‘I love you’ has never sounded so important a sentence to be uttered.

  6. willow88switches Says:

    There is a wonderful dignity within this poem. A tenderness and a triumph of spirit and will, that you’ve offered here – and grace – and I suspect that this aspect of your father, offered you such a gift, even as it robbed him of a certain quality of life – which can be so difficult to watch, the pain and suffering and difficulties evoke so many hard emotions and feelings, for all involved. I really like how you’ve used the threading and needle as metaphor – how the simple daily tasks become so mind-focused (my own father has MS – so it’s really close to par for me to understand this poem) – you’ve really offered us a very special aspect of your relationship in this poem – it speaks softly Karin, yet carries such a presence.

  7. Apoorva Rai Says:

    The bond between a father and a daughter is very special.
    A father will always be a superhero for his little girl.
    This poem is so beautifully written and overwhelming.
    No matter what happens in our life, no matter what problem we will, we remain calm as long as our father is there with us.
    “the opener of all that needs to be opened,the keeper of all things safe”.

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