by LindaAnn LoSchiavo

Before my father stops hugging me, before he dries his frosted eyes, before he commandeers my suitcase, I know our agendas are beating different drums, his expectations clouded with denial.

Before I arrange her medications, consign the complex sequences of patches, dosages, and Roxanol refills to a spreadsheet, before I gently peek inside the master bedroom, I know he’s made himself at home, the dark prince whose wanton seduction has already begun, the sly suitor who will reach the terminus first, conveying her silently into his sunless realm.

Before I set about nursing neglected houseplants, manicuring brown-tipped leaves, recovery in my heart, I sense the shush of air-cooled breeze in empty alcoves, Tampa’s hopeful blue expanse about to ashen, date palms about to shiver in streetlight, the dusk’s fatal crawl towards night.