Six days before he died, my dad
slumped in the gloom of the common room
where they park food trays before
the reluctant. I found him colorless,
tongue pushed forward
at the end
of my four-hour drive.
To brighten his spirit,
I wheeled him out to bask
in shades of scarlet maples,
amber marigolds, the reckless fuchsia
of late-blooming impatiens.
Moving from shadow, the biting air
melted; as in the old tale,
I unlayered Dad.
With the beam of warmth
that drew us out, I recalled his childhood
name for me. I’ll call you Little Sunshine NOW,
he declared, flinging my arm
around shoulders just unwrapped
with the same gesture.
to complete his hug, I kissed his cheek.
Hungrily, he turned to nuzzle my neck
making up for lost time,
or anticipating it.