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Father's Day
by Ed Bennett

They've showered and dressed you,
placed your wheelchair in the sun room
where you pass the time before our visit.

I came alone today, your day,
came to sit with you for a while
to contemplate your glassy stare,
the lack of recognition,
the silence demanded by your stroke.

I remember the Sunday meals followed
with a special cake, your favorite,
or so you said every year
when you sat at the head of the table
like an emperor, sharing stories
told a thousand times before
and all of us laughing
at the appropriate parts
content to spend the day with you
until we said goodbye,
until next time.

Somewhere in each passing year
a bit of you was lost,
some ability taken for granted
diminished in the setting sun
until this day, no less special
yet silent in your cell of isolation.

I'm leaving soon for my own cake,
for the belly laugh of your grandchildren 
as I open the gag presents, 
preside with regal majesty at my table, 
taught by a king with an eloquence, 
this gift, this gleaned inheritance. 

I kiss your forehead as I leave 
and you are startled from your reverie. 
I try to find some wordless goodbye 
to break this damned senility, 
take you back to the days 
of sweets and serendipity. 

Long live the Emperor 
whose soul is endless 
though his words are lost. 
Long live the sound of laughter, 
the crumbs of half eaten cake, 
my father's hand on my shoulders. 


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