A Beautiful Town by Haya Pomrenze
When my father died I was twelve hundred miles away
because a giggly-bosomed hospice nurse
in loud pink scrubs chirped
that it could be weeks, even a month.
That evening he had mushroom barley soup
then gave each child an I love you.
Over the phone it sounded like a regular I love you
not a final phrase, which is why
you have to see people when they speak to you.
I wish I could say that looking back
I heard my father’s wet cough, his rattled breath
a long pause, which forced me to board a plane.
Instead that night my father went to the bathroom
with his walker and his Jamaican aide he loved like a daughter,
which makes me feel happy and sad. His kidneys shut down
the way his face did when he was hurt or angry.
Back in the railed hospital bed he counted down in real time
the same way he did when we were late for carpool or synagogue.
Five minutes, four minutes, faltered at three.
He made it to one minute, eyes at half-mast.
It’s a beautiful town, he said.
Haya Pomrenze: “With the exception of eating rice pudding and chocolate babka, writing poetry is the closest I’ve come to a true spiritual experience. I’m a believer in God on my own terms. I write poems in synagogue, on carpool line, while having sex, working with my psych patients. I have absolute faith in a higher power when I write. There’s a bit of the divine in my mortal words.”