NPM – 20 of 30

Winter Solstice

on the longest night of the year
my father told us he was ready to die

driving home, those lines popped in my head
so I knew this poem had to come at some point

it’s impossible to exist in these two roles
daughter, poet
without overlap


his decision was both shocking & comforting
before the hospital visit, we talked on the phone
he was desperately tired
it was different than other times
I knew something had to be done

that night, sitting beside him, my mom on the other side,
he said, “I’ve made a decision.”
I took his hand, his skin soft and thin,
“I want to go home and be done with this,”
he gestured with his other hand to indicate
hospital, machines, gowns, fluorescence
“I want you to talk to them tomorrow.”
I knew what he meant. But I had to be sure.
I wanted him to make sure he knew what
he was saying, what he was doing,
what he was setting in motion.

Leave the hospital? Yes
Stop getting dialysis? Yes
Hospice? Yes
At home? Yes
Sure? Yes


after many tears and more talking
we left him to fall asleep unburdened
we called my sister to tell her, said we’d let her know
when we knew more about getting him home

the drive home started quietly, both of us
floating in a surreal landscape
everything shimmered, we were one beat behind

we spoke truthfully, tearfully
me admitting that I was writing poetry in my head
she admitting that she felt some relief
both of us feeling guilty for these thoughts
both of us forgiving the other for them


that longest night, I slept in his bed,
but not before I examined the room,
opened the closet
took a picture of his shirts
tried to sleep but could only see
a family vacation to Yellowstone
where he threw my child body into the air
so I could see higher, how I was surprised
then delighted by his spontaneity
the thrill of the toss, how he caught me
and did it again, laughing
my daddy laughing

2 Comments Add yours

  1. josefa says:

    Again right on point, describing his last days and knowing that’s what and how he wanted it. I know he’s at peace finally.

  2. Sandy says:

    oh hell girl.

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