Look at you, old
dear crusty old
man—you, who never knew
me well, whom I
do not know,
though you are the only man I’ve known for all
my life. Here you are, your fever heat
beside me in the doctor’s waiting room.
I take your crooked hand.
You let your eyes fall closed.
Without your bustle, your brocade of talk
on antique chests and etymologies and cans
you collected from the side of the road, without the light
of your eyes, I see
the hollows of your skull.
You, who never speak to me of age, or death, or love—
you know, don’t you,
that this is how it may go—this loss
of appetite, the pull
of sleep, the days folded into pale blue
we sit side by side, waiting. We act
as though you have only
But the curtain’s been pulled aside—
if not for the last act,
then for rehearsal.
Jennifer L. Freed lives in central Massachusetts, where she has recently completed a manuscript based on the repercussions of her mother’s stroke. Current work appears/is forthcoming in Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Rust + Moth, and others. Her poem-sequence “Cerebral Hemorrhage” was awarded the 2020 Samuel Washington Allen Prize from the New England Poetry Club. Please visit jfreed.weebly.com