—father, two days before
All our life you kept routines
like rituals, religiously and neat.
We called you then the kung fu master
of drywall, mowing lawns, housework.
We stood in awe and boasted
of your prowess to our friends.
You were a master too dismissing
our complaints with dizzying speed.
We knew our words were tightly rationed.
Your time with us was to the point,
your diction terse, your hands swift,
the arcing of your belt a quick buzz.
Now you breathe but once or twice
each minute, and your chest heaves.
This is not like you, father,
master of routines, delaying for hours
while we wait. And wonder. And hope
to see you be again, yourself.
–father, three hours before
He breathes in the present moment.
He breathes out a moment of his past.
This is the pulmonary system of Grace,
freeing us from the burden of what was.
Now, at his end, he draws in hard,
almost gasping after each long pause.
His chest rises sharply, while his eyes
remain far off and strangely set.
What long-past moment, pain or joy,
incident troubling the order of things,
clings stubbornly, beyond reason,
waiting to be dislodged, breathed out,
its order finally set right, set free?
Kevin Hadduck recently retired from Carroll College in Helena, Montana, ending thirty seven years in academia. He has published poetry in a variety of journals, including Journal of the American Medical Association, Lullwater Review, Appalachian Journal, The Wisconsin Review, Plainsongs, South Dakota Review, Blue Unicorn, The Christian Century, and The Sow’s Ear.
His poetry collections include Hymnody of the Blue Heron (Cherry Grove Collections), A Farewell to Lent (Cherry Grove Collections), and Beloved Brother, Beloved Sister: Poems for Palestine (Fomite Press, pending—currently available as a Kindle ebook). He has published a prose biography/memoir, When Words Get in the Way, A Journey with Aphasia (Stillwater River Publications, self-published).
Mr. Hadduck can be reached at:
Blue Heron Poetry