The first thing I told the ER nurse,
was that you were too much of an asshole to let
something like a stroke take you down.
Except, they don’t really tell daughters
in the middle of the night,
how bad the hemorrhaging is.
I am not sure how to speak ill of the dead.
I only wish that besides the air they pumped in through
your trach, and the fluids they pumped through the iv,
the meds that flowed through your central line,
they could have also dripped in forgiveness.
I would stand on your left side,
to be out of the way of nurses
but you couldn’t feel me there.
So I would brush the sweat off your forehead,
and will the fever away.
If only intention was all it took-
because there was enough stubborn between the
both of us to fill that 8×10 hospital room.
But, cantankerous does not fix the entire paralysis of
one’s left side, does not stop the shutting down of kidneys
or cease the bacteria from becoming pneumonia.
But it will wake you from a sleep that has lasted twenty-six days.
Shook your hospital bed,
pounded it on it with my insignificant fists,
and goaded you into one more fight.
Yelled at you with the only voice I had left.
It took you only twelve hours to answer back.
Looked me sideways in the eye,
and showed me you were done.
Asked for every tube, line and iv,
to go away.
And when I leaned on my little brother,
What do we do now?
–I’ve been fighting with him my whole life,
I’m not going to today.
ICU moves slow – has its own timezone,
except when there is no more time left,
and then you’re looking for just one more second.
When they shut down the machines
I thought it would be quick –
But Pops, you were waiting for something,
and it wasn’t old hyms for me to sing,
or Willburys’ tunes
or even one last brush of the forehead.
Sixteen hours through the night,
till they said, you didn’t have to be in that little room anymore
because this was a room to make you well –
So we wheeled you off to the light of hospice –
A room with great windows,
Pine trees almost like home-
and there was sun.
I kept singing, held your left side,
useless as it was. Amazing Grace,
how sweet the sound –
your mother taught me that one –
then Sang the other
one the one you walked me down the aisle to.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
take these broken wings and learn to fly
all your life. You were only waiting –
It is hard to speak ill of the dead,
but with your last breath,
and single tear,
And how I stood so damn brave,
till you were long past gone
Old man, you must know-
I am long past forgiveness now.