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Five Poems. By Lisa Zaran.


It's difficult to imagine myself
ten years ago, framed in the doorway
of room 201, Maryvale Hospital, ICU,
my fathers body on the bed, the sheet
pulled up and folded over at his chest.
His hands resting amicably at his sides, a position he never would have chosen had he actually been asleep.
He preferred tossing his arms above his head, ankles crossed left over right, steady snore.

I remember I approached the bed,
all the time looking closely at his face, then his chest, for signs of breathing, thinking maybe the nurse is wrong, maybe he hasn't died afterall. I touch his hand. Still warm.
I touch his cheek, still bristly with growth and I know how being unshaven might upset him.
And isn't it strange how hair still grows even as a man is dying? Eyes still shed tears, teeth and hair still need brushing.

It took a moment for me to recognize the quiet.
Gone was the whoosh of the respirator, gone were the clicks and alarms, the steady drip of intravenous fluids. And mostly, my father's discomfort. The expression of active control, not wanting to upset me, he'd mouth the words, I'm okay sweetheart. And I would pretend he was.

a line


You told me you were sorry but you weren't sorry.
You were busy and I was too but I was also willing to give up everything just to see you, spend some time with you, talk and catch up. It had been two years and you were my father. I was sixteen and lonely.

You were living off the money you made at swapmeets.
I was a junior in high school. My grades were average, your income was low. Your house was a tent in the woods.
Mine was a single family home with my mother and stepfather, two sisters, one brother and a few pets.

It's times like now I wish things had been different.
All those opportunities for us to simply wake up and make a new relationship, tragically lost. I open my eyes now to a fatherless world and I miss you. Now, in my thirties there are so many things I want to know, wish I could ask.

a line


~October 22, 2006, San Diego Cox Arena

Coolness in hand, you amble across the stage.
The crowd goes crazy. I go crazy. Jumping

up and down as though I've got springs
on my soles, so happy to see you, thrilled

really to be part of the show. You, in your top hat and dark coat, heart crushing walk

so delicate across the stage floor. The limelight doesn't startle you, the crushing crowd with

their generous shouts of hello and I love you.
Right in front of me is a young couple.

It's obvious the man is the fan. I know this in how the woman looks up to him, beaming,

happy to see he is happy. The three guys in the row behind me and my sister know

I am the fan. They laugh everytime I scream.
One touches my shoulder and I turn to see

what he wants. Big Dylan fan? He asks, smiling.
The prayer on my face says yes.

One of the songs I've got a connection with begins.
You lean into the mike, squint your gracious blue eyes

and sing.

a line

If Not for You

~If not for you, babe, I couldn't find the door,
couldn't even see the floor, I'd be sad and blue,
if not for you.

~Bob Dylan

I loved you so much
when everyone else
had pretty much given up,
tossed you out of their hearts
and minds.

You have to understand,
they wanted to move on
with their lives, you
were an encumbrance.

It wasn't that they didn't
love you, they just didn't
know how to love you,
didn't know how to act

during your inevitable descent,
didn't understand
your plausibilities,
a man like you,
a man with your individual language,
your mysterious absolutes.

I loved you so much
that I was bound to you
and there is nothing to regret.
I have always submitted to love
and you were never a question
on my lips.

a line

I Hope You Know

Clouds pass
through the particulars
of space.

I smile at you
above my scarf
as you balance

two cups of coffee
and a cheese danish
to share.

It's been raining
since yesterday.
Everybody is talking

about it.
Most rain we've seen
in years...

...yeah, but the desert
sure could use it.
You set our cups

on the table,
run back to the counter
for napkins

and sweet-n-low.
What I wouldn't
do for you,

I hope you know.

a line

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