Rings of quiet rippled from the simple
fact of him. In every room,
a nucleus of stillness where he sat.
When we called he would hand
the phone over: Here's your mother.
Conversation was for wives and daughters.
Our talk poured over him; he'd steep
in the sounds we made. Near the end,
morphine warped the words he meant to say
his name signed on the DNR:
I read beside him on the bed, his body
whittled, waning. He started
to tell me about a vacation.
They had a really nice....
then fell into silence, my pages
turning audibly. Fifteen minutes later:
golf course. Later his talk
turned urgent; he wanted dinner: squirglies
in squirgly sauce, and asked my sister
if she'd taken care of the squelchers,
wouldn't rest till she promised
the squelchers were all set.
He called out for Frankie. Who was Frankie?
Tell your mother. Where the bills were kept,
the policies and deeds. At the end he fought
sleep, struggled against the drugs, slung a leg
over the bedrail, climbing out, he had that much
left to tell us, but finally no
engravable last words,
just that nimbus of silence
that wears me lately everywhere I go,
weight that leans against me like a dog
to say in no uncertain terms, I'm here.