November Sabbath

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Ridge and Valley: an exchange of poems

Villagers attending church, by Walter Sanders
Villagers attending church, by Walter Sanders

 

Dear Dave,

Lamar sits in his wheelchair
at the back of the church: Parkinson’s

propped in his lap like a toddler, bad baby
who crawls on this old man’s chest, pulls

his tired white head to the side
and whispers in his ear about lungs

falling in on themselves. Our minister reads
the words of the Psalmist, who assures us

about the place of the righteous and the wicked.
Lamar’s labored breathing lingers, rests

like a shawl on the shoulders of those of us
who sit in the next to last row. We can’t help

but wonder where the breath of God is, and why
a good man is treated so wickedly.

Todd Davis

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Todd Davis (webpage) teaches creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of three books of poetry - The Least of These (Michigan State University Press, 2010), Some Heaven (Michigan State University Press, 2007) and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002) - one chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow: The Thoreau Poems (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010), and co-editor of the anthology, Making Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, 2010). His poems have been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on "The Writer’s Almanac" and by Marion Roach on "The Naturalist’s Datebook," as well as by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column "American Life in Poetry." In addition to his creative work, Davis is the author or editor of six scholarly books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade, or How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (State University of New York Press, 2006) and Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (University Press of Virginia, 2001). His latest book is an edited collection of creative nonfiction by poets writing about basketball.

8 Comments


  1. Powerful.
    Great line: Lamar’s labored breathing lingers, rests
    like a shawl on the shoulders

    Reply

  2. Thanks for the positive comments. This was a tough poem to work on. Lamar was a very good man whose life came quietly to a close because of the disease–from vibrancy to a shell that locked all his thoughts behind his eyes.

    Reply

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