He draws on his cigarette.
The unconcerned tv chatters local news behind the bar. A ticker tape crawls left to right- weather, sport scores, a fire, a lottery winner, a man in his …
That last item will loop back around in 10 minutes or so.
A table near us is paying a bill, they are complaining vigorously about a charge for extra ranch dressing -You didn't tell us there was a charge for that! We want the manager. The server sighs. Hassles.
They disappear and return with the item removed from the bill.
I know they only circled through the kitchen, debited the bill, and did not bother the manager. Tip saved. Problem solved.
Recent x-rays show expanding pathways of concern in my dad's left hip. As I understand it, his own blood is the enemy. Over his left shoulder a plate arrives. Mine lands from my right.
I notice the break of customary service. It was obviously more convenient, but full plates should come from the right; empty, the left. Rules matter. Certainty. Assurance.
He eyes me eyeing his smoke. If it were related to smoking, I’d stop -he says.
I’ve done the research. He is correct. Would be simpler if he weren’t.
30 minutes ago he described the honeycomb-like decay in his bones as we transversed from hospital AC to July heatwave.
He offers little depth and closes with- Your mom keeps the details in a notebook. Her rulebook.
Should I confirm the details? I pivot and ask how’s he feeling. Without pause, he declares -I want a burger.
It’s 9:30 AM I think to myself. This is a problem.
And then I realize that this problem is not the problem.
My mom expects us back right after the appointment. That’s a problem too. But not the problem.
Back at the bar, I ask -Should we check in at home?
I reach for my phone, he wags his finger ‘no’.
The problem with cancer, he starts -is not how it changes you, but how it changes other people. Makes them unreliable, needy, and rigid all at the same time.
I get a bit of Holden Caufield vibe from his tone.
Really? I think, is that the problem? I guess that could be true. Perspective.
He continues -Before we left, she told me to come right home after the appointment, I told her no. She started crying.
The ticker tape slides back into view. … a man in his late 60's was pulled from Lake Ontario …
He bites into his burger.
Some sauce runs down his chin onto his shirt.
Nonplussed he adds -I like breaking rules.
it was built closed and not meant to open. unfixable, but not really broken. remains with the lost, avoids being found. screams all the time making no sound. wants to be seen avoiding light. knows it’s daytime, says it’s the night.
i recently lost a poem about the
process of losing my grandmother.
the slow tidal gravity that drew me
away from her had me scrambling to
identify memories of no fixed
address. ironically the faded forms
i could postmark were scribbled on
brightly hued post-its; colour coded
culture schemes with names like rio
de janeiro, bali, helsinki, bora
bora, and marrakesh somehow were not
vivid enough beacons amongst my desk
top miscellany to highlight the
earnest dignity of my own polish