I’ve stolen away while dad is at dialysis—his blood
coming out one tube flushing through a human
washing machine before going back in, the “thrill”
of his fistula hot and gushing like a small spillway
at a factory next to a river, and he’s hoping his BP
doesn’t crash again and that he lives another day—
yes, I’ve run away—the laundry done, bed changed,
bathroom cleaned, a couple of meals prepped, one
in a crockpot the way he likes it (soft, redolent;
his teeth hurt, taste buds are failing), his bills paid
or at least postponed, emotional labor done for now
(anger, fear, he won’t tell anyone but me). Yes, I’ve
escaped mid-day to a bar overlooking Sandy Hook.
October sun so hopeful and forgiving. The ocean
visible over the causeway…
People are laughing. Eating. My spot at the bar
belongs to no one but me. Right now. This minute.
I claim it. Forgive me, lord, oh lord, have mercy.
My alarm will go off soon. Go to every table and ask
for ketchup from anyone who has not experienced grief.
Just try. Instead, raise a glass. Toast to everyone you see.