Portrait of My Father From a Second Floor Window Four Months Before His Death

My father stood in front of the sink
in the bathroom he shared with my mother.
The color of the tiny floor tiles was green; 
and the color of the tiles on the walls, an old
mustard yellow. Looking down, unseen, from 
the second floor window of the house we built 
next door that my children and I lived in, 
I could swear it was almost the same color 
as his skin. He took his time, my father: 
he took off the watch on his wrist and folded 
the cuffs of the daytime shirt he wore 
under an old cardigan. He was going  
to brush his teeth, gargle with mouthwash,   
spit with effort: all movements slower now 
that the rest of him was testing the currents
of this new sea his doctors referred to as 
The Gradual Decline. Pills in the morning, 
at noon, and again at night for the faltering 
heart, the heart that skipped a beat like the old 
record he used to play. Begin, it sang; and
beguine—that little fancy, a passing infatuation
with the idea of time not yet knighted
by sadness. I held still, afraid if I blinked, 
the future would lose no time unseating us from 
the surface where we tried to hold our ground.  

   

3 Replies to “Portrait of My Father From a Second Floor Window Four Months Before His Death”

  1. This touches me deeply, thinking of my own father’s continuing decline from Parkinson’s… and being unable to see him and knowing he will not recognise me the next time I do.

    “the future would lose no time unseating us from
    the surface where we tried to hold our ground.”

    I am unseated, but did not know how to express it until I read your poem. Thank you.

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