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by Carl Palmer
He always seemed to be the same age,
same weight, same clothes, same voice,
same everything at 40, 50, 60 and 70,
however when I see him at 80, he is old.
His same blue suit that always fit so fine
swaddles a smaller frame as he shuffles
down the airport ramp beside Mom, still
her same ageless age, not frail like Dad.
New dentures show too white and large
through the thin blue lips of his smile.
Sharp shoulder blades, meatless arms
feel fragile in my welcoming hug.
His sunken eyes detect my sudden realization
he has come here to see me for his last time.
Blinking tears, I exhale hard through my nose,
clench my jaw, swallow to steady my voice.
I’ve got a brown pill for y’all to take tonight,
lightens the mood remembering those tiny
powerful laxatives Mom always dispensed
to flush on-the-road food after every trip.
That final visit Dad spoke of friends I never met,
adventures never shared, times before my time,
stories heard in the past. This time I listen closer,
so not to forget a single word.