by Brian Reickert

A dark hospital hallway with a door propped open.

When I was thirty-one
I learned the difference
between casket dead
and hospital dead.

There was no composure,
only a profusion of absence
and that which accompanies it.

My father’s eyes
were wide and yellow,
his face whiskered
and sallow, lips cracked,
swollen tongue, mouth agape.

The contours of design
had diverged,
and what remained
collapsed inward
to a point that consumed
what was left of a man.

And though with little effort
I could have carried him a long way—
like a sleeping child
or a sack of mulch—

his ubiety was so massive
that space around him,
a labyrinth of girders,
bolts, and beams,
the wide, teeming earth,
and sprawling sky, all
seemed to tremble and bend
as if to implode—

yet there was nothing left for us
but to weep and to embrace,
to marvel and to wait
for him to be taken away.

Category: Featured, Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student