Crutch

gray and black hive printed textile

by MICHAEL MARK

When my father complains about the high winds, I say,
Get out there with your kite.

When he asks me to walk closer in case he falls, I act
like I don’t hear.

I must seem indifferent to his winces as he slips
his thin arms through the winter coat I hold wide
for him in July, and pretend to ignore the bright pus
his arm bandages sop up.

If I give in, acknowledge his feelings, he’ll worry more,
weaken, hurt worse, call me
to visit a second time each week.

I couldn’t stand it.

Instead of sighing how pale he looks, I scold,
You’ve been in the sun again – without sunscreen!, argue
mirrors are liars, same as his cardiologists and urologist.

But when he claims the winning Powerball ticket
is in his pocket – No doubt, I say.

The first person to live to 150 is alive now, I tell him
as we eat corned beef sandwiches and split a knish.

He looks up, dull-eyes blinking. And, it’s You! I say.
They called your name – Bob! Like Bingo. Even said
your apartment number
.

They know everything, he sighs, amazed, and orders two
Black and Whites to go, like he believes me
that he’s not diabetic.

Or because he knows my weakness for Benny’s cookies,
how I always eat them both before he gets one bite.

From Issue 7

MICHAEL MARK is a long-distance walker and hospice volunteer. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, Grist, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, The Southern Review, The New York Times, The SUN, Waxwing, and American Life in Poetry. He’s the author of two books of stories, Toba (Atheneum) and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). michaeljmark.com

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