by Jed Myers
Two Men Saying Goodbye
It was clear, he was down to days.
My printed boarding pass declared
US Airways Terminal B
next morning. Should I leave,
I’d miss his eyelids parting less
and less, the gaps between gasps
lengthening, and the last reflex
kiss at the Diet Pepsi’s straw.
As he blinked at me, I believed
he saw someone he loved. I wouldn’t go
so far as to say son or father,
but a glow of his own life in me.
My brother would stay. Oh, he’d have to
sleep at his condo, deal with a few things
early each day, but he’d be back
on hand at the bedside rail. He’d hold
the old man’s head up to help him
sip the cold from the can
while the fever of brain-swell rose
till the burgeoned gel pressed the breath drive
closed. My brother would stand there
while Mom sat by the window and dozed.
I’d fly back to my coast, while Dad lost
the last shred of sense. I intoned
Shalom Aleichem to him as I turned—
“Peace be upon you,” as it was offered
in doorways and on the streets where he was
a boy. Eyes widened, he called out
that ancient goodbye we’d never said
to one another. Who were we then?
My shoes struck loud on hard floor
down the hall past all those rooms.
Jed Myers is a psychiatrist who practices and teaches psychotherapy in Seattle. His book of poems, Watching the Perseids, chronicles his father’s dying of glioblastoma.