March 26, 2023

On the 6th Floor at the VA Medical Center

Finally disarmed, my father curled 
in his hospital gown, a large, stiff 
fetus facing north. His left hand 
would, almost in a rhythm, brush 
his face. I pressed the button
on his bed to find his weight
to mark time: 164.3, 162, 159
I rubbed his back but he rocked 
away, he wanted no distractions

What eddy was swirling him
What boat carried him 
those last miles? Was he 
commanded to lay down 
his arms? Did he volunteer
empty solemnly his pockets
and socks, pull the grenades
out of his mouth, drop them 
with relief into the deep, black sand

I sat by a window that overlooked 
a dull stretch of Syracuse and watched 
his mammalian exit. I cried.  There was 
no one in that wide hushed room 
to order me to stop.