The Sailor

It’s been six years
since you released
your last exhale.
I wasn’t in the room

when it happened because
that is how you wanted it,
just like your own father.
I believe you felt

it had something to do with grace,
though I often regret it,
that I wasn’t there to hold
your hand, to support you toward

your next great opening.
Instead we were sitting
in that fancy white lobster
restaurant in Malibu,

your two children,
with the clinky glasses
and the aproned waiters
and the wall of windows

to the sea.  That blue ocean,
where you spent
so many of your years
losing yourself

and finding yourself.
You longed for the home
that was always waiting for you,
and we both knew it

the moment
you were gone.
We looked at each other
over the crumbs and shells

and toasted our flutes
of expensive champagne,
tried to celebrate you
as best we could

though the chain of our DNA
was ripping, and we felt it,
as you left
for that other horizon.


Where Does It Hurt?

Help me, you say,
I’m dying, you say,
and the doctors in white
tell you No,
whisper it
in the hallways
while we hold your cooling
hands.  Where does it hurt?
they ask, and you reply,
But everywhere is not enough,
not Specific Enough,
so you beg
as your son arranges the headphones
and Van Morrison works for a while,
lifts you away
from the feet that shuffle
up and down vanilla hallways –
the night staff
and the morning staff, the mid-
morning staff and the ones in green
with trays and, Help me, you say
to anyone who will listen,
so your son begs
on your behalf
and the doctor
calls the specialist,
No Diagnosis, they nod
as they hand you
your Tylenol.  We pace
up and down vanilla hallways
where it is always brighter than daylight,
back and forth across the walkway that links
the North Tower to the South,
cars passing underneath,
and where we pass on our way
into the LA night,
driving nowhere,
or to an all night diner
where we will plan the heist of you,
your rescue,
your escape,
and where we will make the promise
that when our time comes
we will be ready,
because in this story
a man lay dying
as the white winged angels
spend their days in ethics committees
and passing out Tylenol.

First Time Since

Standing in your kitchen
between towers of boxes
that overflow with a lifetime

of belongings, I cannot move
forward or backward
and Michael

sits bewildered on a barstool,
elbow resting
on the counter.

We do not
know how
to begin.

And you walk toward us then,
young and tan, shirtless
and smiling. From behind you

Michael looks at me,
raises his fist and mouths the words
muy fuerte,

and we understand
that the way you looked at the very end
was actually

the dream.  When I wake
the pillow is already
wet with tears.

The Last Drive

We drove in that car,
a rental, midsize,
you and I

past palm trees
and the ocean waving
like goodbyes

and grocery bags flying
in traffic, plastic spirals
in the sky.

The highway
was fast, faster
than your body had obliged

in many months
until this drive
and so I

Is it

your reply,

and you asked,
Can’t we just keep driving
and driving

My answer
made you smile

and we were quiet
then for quite
some time.