My Father

The body laid out in a small room,
the ventilator-mask attached, loosely.

The contour of the face, a grey ochre
wax protrudes from the body-bag. Leaning

I place my lips on your forehead, wish
you’d wake, recall when I—age nine on the way

to bed as you, mustache twitching, dozed
in your chair, tv playing—stopped to kiss

your forehead. You woke shouting, NEVER
DO THAT! EVER! And I don’t for a long time.

We stay that way, long after going to bed
in tears, long after misreading your words.


Click here to read Jay Brecker on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by mali desha on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Jay Brecker:
I started writing poems based on my father and our relationship about 15 years after he died. The first one was very long. Too long. As I revise that poem, still unfinished, and perhaps never will be, other moments surface of our life together. This poem, one of those moments, begins in the hospital where EMTs brought him. I waited hours to see him. The problem: locating where he was after a doctor signed the death certificate. Admitting knew the who, but not the where of him. In death as in life, there but not quite.

Jay Brecker
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