This poem was written in late 2015 after a difficult year spent with my ex, his family, death, and losses of many kinds.
Today, I grieve a marriage ended that started to unravel about the time the subject of this poem was making history. If I’m honest, it started before then. The events which unfolded during my late father-in-law’s illness and subsequent death only reinforced the truth behind the lie.
I read it last night at an open mic night and felt compelled to share it with all of you today.
Thanks to Kelly Fitzharris Coody for publishing this poem in Sick Lit Magazine in 2016.
The maze of hallways all seem
the same, nurses stations with sad
still faces and bent backs,
watching the clock until a light blinks
until another patient wanders past
the invisible fence of the floor.
My father-in-law does not remember
me, a stranger he met when his mind
was already broken,
Sometimes he smiles when I enter
his room, more often he cries
for his momma.
My back bends with the nurse’s
we hold him up to dress or bathe
while he spits curses and yells
then he jokes with the cute blonde
I am weary
I want to go home.
We had one good day
he told me his same old stories
we sang, The Old Rugged Cross,
I’ll cherish, burdens I lay down
the smile on his face
the light in his eyes.
The last week he was in his room
a house much too large for two
my husband and his mother, his brothers
none knew what to do, grief
was a squatter, invisible I wrung my
hands, I felt so helpless.
After we said goodbye to him
the light was gone from us,
wicked wounding words, stricken by fear
faithless, broken we had become
our legacy, lingering loss of trust
a last word for a last word.
My husband’s eyes and hands
dimpled smile so like his father’s,
watching him sometimes frightens me.
Will he forget who I am?
Will we be strangers one day,
or were we all along?
Kim D. Bailey (Deal)
December 6, 2015
For: Bob and Gene, the two real deals. I wish you hadn’t left us. We needed you so.