For six months we drove to the clinic every day–
infusions to cleanse his septic blood.
Sometimes we’d stop for coffee along the way,
and I’d try to go inside the shop alone,
but he’d insist, he could walk on his own,
so I’d help him out the passenger seat and we’d shuffle
into QuickTrip, get donuts, too, then trudge
toward the clinic for the cure, a dose a day,
antibiotics for his heart that wouldn’t heal on its own.
He refused surgeries, transfusions of blood.
He even drove to church to do his prayer shift, alone
at two AM, a 24/7 adoration of the Virgin, his way
to ease the shame, I guess, maybe for his wayward
youth, he didn’t say. I’d chide him as we stepped
from car to curb, tell him not to drive alone,
to let the others pray for him this time, a daily
vision of healthy cells washing his blood.
Always the father, he never did listen or own
his eldest daughter had some sense of her own.
On these drives we’d talk politics and the way
the country was heading, the bad blood,
the fear one candidate stoked, but walking
was painful, and he grew weaker by the day.
He watched the news from his recliner when he was alone,
but he didn’t live to hear the words I alone
can fix it. He believed what he saw with his own
two eyes on cable news, the lies they spun every day.
He wouldn’t have it when I said propaganda was their way.
I tried to show him how they twisted the truth, stomped
all over the facts. But his kidneys were failing, his blood
ever thinner. In the end, all that mattered was blood
relations, forgiveness, love. In hospice, I left him alone
the night before he died. Still thought he’d walk
out of that place. The nurse said he was afraid on his own
in the dark. Even with opiates, he couldn’t find a way to sleep.
He asked for me. I drove right over. He stopped breathing that day.
There was a blood moon, auger of end times, in the days
before his death, a lone orb pointing the way,
an opening of sorts, a door for him to slip through, quite easily, on his own.
I wrote this poem last year and was thinking of including it as part of a manuscript I’m working on, but it doesn’t quite fit the project.
My father died in the spring of 2016, right after the Republican primaries. He was still following politics up until maybe the last month of his life. When the primaries came around, he was too sick to think about voting.
He watched cable news quite a bit when his decline set in, although he read a lot, too. When I told him that Fox News was biased and prone to hyperbole if not outright lies, he downplayed it and said, “Oh, they can’t do that, they have to report the facts.”
My father was an old school, corporate conservative who saw the Republican Party as the party of wealth and prosperity. His parents, my grandparents, were blue collar union workers from PA who always voted Democrat.
I think he wanted to be different from his father, who did not receive any schooling after eighth grade.
I’m sharing this poem now because of the recent red moon we just experienced, and also just because I want to.