Sunday 7 September 2014

a poem about my father's death

A room at the end.
Tubes, machines. Mechanical sounds.
My father’s wife sings a religious song.
Faith, tears.
I found tears too.
Faith is over. A stranger from the first.
A room at the end.
Not large. Well lit.
His hair still dark. Dyed?
Still thick. Features?
Used to be handsome. Maybe still is.
Dwarfed by the bed, by all the appliances.
A room at the end.
I look at the room he lived in while
he was dying.
Wheelchair. Respirator.
Vodka bottle.
Books: westerns, history, crime, travel.
A smart brown blazer hanging by the bed.
A room at the end.
I shower in the attached bathroom.
Change into dhoti, don the sacred thread.
Gooseflesh. Shivering. First time.
Conduct the last rites.
Hypnotic. Befuddling.
Fire and water and milk and leaves.
A room at the end.
He slides along the ramp.
Into the chamber.
I go away for lunch.
Come back and am given an earthen pot.
Ashes. Bones. More rituals.
I have no connection to this.
This is not my father. This is not my ritual.
A room at the end.
I dream him into it.
A quiet place. Maybe some Debussy.
Modigliani nudes. Degas.
An easel on which waits a landscape in progress.
A bottle of vodka.
Books. I suppose that would do for him.
A room at the end.
There is always a room. And the end. We are not intrepid. Or immortal.
No mountainsides, battlefields, ocean deeps, daring sports gone wrong.
We are not intrepid in that way. In this
we are alike.

This is 
not my tribute.

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