In the Doctor’s Office, Two Weeks before His Death

What was my father dreaming,
hunched in his wheelchair,
zipped neck-high in too warm fleece,
tired eyelids gently closed,
fingers meekly interlaced
in soggy lap?

Even his waking
was a kind of dreaming. As if he had become
a dream self that he watched—a self so
patient and he unable
to shake him, so silent,
and he unable to make him speak.

And he waited—always in
the moment’s blink—without knowing
he was waiting, as now
he waited to be summoned
by the doctor’s nurse, to glide
to the examining room (myself
anonymous behind), the rain
of stimuli erased as if by
windshield wipers, then again erased,
again, again, again.

His brain was ratcheting
crazily backwards until it spun
blindly off its sprockets; it was
a print left too long in the developer
until it became all blackness.

But suddenly he smiled with such
sunburst graciousness—what was
he dreaming?— and murmured so
distinctly in his sleep, “That looks
so nice!,” as if his soul leapt
to an instant of shining reassembly,
like broken glass in a film run
in reverse.

From Shimmer.
Originally published in The Cimarron Review
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