A Taste of Sweetness

by Michele Bombardier

Originally published in Alaska Quarterly. This poem is included in Michele Bombardier‘s book “What We Do”.

Artist website: www.fishplatepoetry.com

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I loved feeding my dying father,

rigging him upright,

cocooning him in pillows

tapping the spoon

soft against his lips, waiting

for his bird mouth to open,

tipping in the dab of lemon pudding.

I tell you, he never coughed once,

not like in the hospital.

But home in the rented bed

in the dining room, I tended him

and my hands knew exactly

how to wipe his mouth,

sponge his teeth with the foam toothette,

chapstick his cracked lips.

The time for words had passed

and my father, who did not speak

to me for years, blinked

as he reached for my hand

raising the spoon to his lips,

his hand I knew

from earliest memory as fist,

as slap, as rasp

as he pulled off his belt.

I fed him, I tell you,

like I fed my own babies,

the answer to my long wondering

what could happen

if fear left the house.

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