Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Father's Death

If there were the right word for everything, each young philosopher
could dream without sleeping.

—David Shapiro Gold and Cardboard

Praying was not enough
to fill his sunken skin,
to rub out a yellow pallor.
I encircled him with magic
rituals of childhood.

Counting backwards by threes
starting at a thousand—
holding my breath until zero
or when air forced me to lose
my wager with whoever held
a cord to his blue gown
was not enough.

I paid my debts
for all bets lost—
not being able to finish
a large banana split,
the amount of snow 
in the last storm.

I kneeled at his bedside
and stared at stainless steel.

We never spoke of death
while it sat
on the horizon.
He heard the rumor
trickle down 
from inverted bottles
and changed the subject.

Linda Watskin © 2010


  1. Oh, lovely, lovely. The last stanza, especially--that last line lands with an audible thunk. The "magic rituals of childhood," the "bets lost." I like everything about this.

  2. If I've understood this as you intended, it is a very sad poem. Some wonderful phrases.

  3. That last section could easily stand alone. Very strong.

  4. this is incredible. i'm glad you went where it took you. very powerful.

  5. Sorry to be no more than echo, but your poem is beautitully potent, a powerful thing that unleashed a flood of memory. Thank you, for sharing it.


  6. Beautifully sad poem. Strong and reaistic!

  7. A very truthful poem, and so sad. I am so sorry you lost your father.

  8. As the others have said, this is an incredibly powerful poem - full of beauty and desolation. I love, love, love the last stanza -- every line -- right down to "and changed the subject."

  9. This touched me. So much power and sadness. Yet beautiful. My dad passed away 8 years ago. I miss him.

    crooked window

  10. Beautiful, and incredibly sad.

  11. Beautiful, beautiful poem. I like the tenderness, the wagering/paying past debts -- terrific reality and metaphor.

    (I've read some wonderful poems about death recently in Floyd Skloot's "The End of Dreams" ... which you might like.)

  12. You square up with the real, both inside and out. I have no idea how it was for you to write it but I sense how it would be for me. You are of course not alone, as your comments show you, not alone in the spirit of the time. However, it is you that wrote it, and you wrote very well.

    In a related spirit:

    The Phone Call From Ohio

    When I got the call
    the world dropped from beneath me
    and I had to take
    flight to survive it.

    She said she found you beside
    your bed all curled up,
    the far side, hidden
    from her at your door, from her
    hopes for you. She had
    hopes for you.

    At least
    you got your wish for release
    though I bet it hurt.

    I hope this is okay. I do this. People in my bloglife have called me Johnny Applepoem. With one blog friend I have carried on conversations in poems this way, and others leave poems at my site from time to time. When that happens I am very happy.

  13. Thanks for leaving your poem. It's quite powerful and beautifully written. I also find myself responding to something in a poetry format, but I've sent them to the other person.

    I'm so glad you did.


  14. It should read I've not sent them--

  15. Everyone has said it; lovely and poignant.