Contemporary Haibun Poem
The mid-afternoon sun rests along the top of the Ramapo Mountains. The patio shines in a brilliance unobstructed by leafless maple trees. Mira and I sit at the table, taking a rest from the vigil we’ve kept over my father for the past two days. We need fresh air untainted by the stench of human feces and Febreeze. I need a moment away from his incessant, morphine-driven snoring.
But a shout from my mother brings us running back. She stands by Dad’s right side, her back to the fireplace. Dark lines under her eyes from lack of sleep look more prominent in the afternoon light. I take my place by his left. A misunderstanding later, my eight-year-old son stands next to me.
My father takes his last breath: air gurgles out of him as though from a deflating balloon.
I feel nothing. He is so still now. So unlike his graceful floating across the white Italian tile of his restaurant, greeting every one of his customers like they were guests in his own home. So unlike his laying and hammering down the planks of the backyard deck he designed and built. So unlike him.
“Is he gone?”
My numbness shatters. In a whisper, through sudden, silent sobs, I answer my son.
an empty hospice bed
an empty room
Photograph by Ryan McGuire