Six days before he died, my dad
slumped in the gloom of the common room
where they park food trays before
the reluctant. I found him colorless,
tongue pushed forward
at the end
of my four-hour drive.
To brighten his spirit,
I wheeled him out to bask
in shades of scarlet maples,
amber marigolds, the reckless fuchsia
of late-blooming impatiens.
Moving from shadow, the biting air
melted; as in the old tale,
I unlayered Dad.
With the beam of warmth
that drew us out, I recalled his childhood
name for me. I’ll call you Little Sunshine NOW,
he declared, flinging my arm
around shoulders just unwrapped
with the same gesture.
to complete his hug, I kissed his cheek.
Hungrily, he turned to nuzzle my neck
making up for lost time,
or anticipating it.
Sarah W. Bartlett has multiple poetry publications in Aurorean, LiteraryMama, Minerva Rising, and SheMom; and one prior online publication, “For Keeps,” on Halfway Down The Stairs. Her first chapbook of poems is Into the Great Blue (Finishing Line Press, 2010); and currently in-press with Orbis Books (release September 2013) is HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write, co-edited with Marybeth Christie Redmond. She authored a chapter in the critically acclaimed Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland & Co., 2012); two in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages, (All Things That Matter Press, 2009); and a personal essay in Ars Medica. She operates Women Writing for (a) Change–Vermont, a creative writing program for women writing for self-discovery and social change. Sarah is staving off empty-nesthood by writing about the five children she raised and what she has learned from tending gardens, cat, and dog with her co-bicycling husband. She blogs at sarah-w-bartlett.com and writinginsideVT.com.
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