nearmiss

I almost died...
who says that and means it?

After a long draw on 
his diet coke
he dead-eyes me with-
no one knows what that means.

He is smiling 
and chewing
on a double bacon burger.

I can see the hinge
of his jaw and the bowl
of his cheek work
the beef and grease.

Muscles spasm
slightly under greyish 
skin, his hands
hurt,

chemo does that.

Who says that and really knows for sure?

This is his version
of bon vivant
sarcasm.

I agree in my head,

conversations 
with my father
swing this way 
every time
lately.

I suggest salad.

I'm not sick, he says.

I hug too lightly.

I'm not delicate, he says.

I am quiet.

I. Am. Not. Dead. Yet.
He pronounces 
with both 
definition and 
prognostication.

My mom binds his
days with balms
and emotional buffers
drenched in 
apologetic overbearing
caretaking.

Though
he tries,
he usually 
can't leave 
the house fast enough
and hesitates
in the car
at drop off.

Cancer 
and it’s 
multiplying minions, 
lurk at the edges
of our visits.

We name it,
call it out,
offer it a seat
at the bar
beside us.

We talk over it,

We laugh at it.

My dad mentions
that he will probably
barf later, then jokes-
give me an hour then we can go out for pizza.

In his world you die 
or you don't,

any bridge
of indecision
was washed out 
the moment
of diagnosis.

And living 
means swimming
in the turbulent
eddies of 
the in-between.

He always seemed 
confident 
that he could wash up
on the right side
of the riverbank.

Order onion rings, he says.
Then we will go see a movie.

He always 
pays the bill
and says- 
you'll get the next one.

One response to “nearmiss”

  1. Poignant, strong and descriptive of your experience with your dad! 👍👏

    Like

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