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My Father’s Last Words by David Graham

My Father’s Last Words

I’ve no idea what they were.
For eight years his mind
shut down like a grand hotel,
room after room going dark,
until at the last he sat mostly
dozing in a wheelchair,
hands twisted claws,
face a gray blurry copy
of itself, accepting a nurse’s
spoon with yogurt
or vanilla ice cream.

Near the end we were lucky
to get a spectral whispered yes
or no when asking did he
want another blanket,
was the sun too bright
in his eyes? He was
without desire: what need
to say anything after that?

So I cherish all the more
my own fiction—his
last words were for me.
That time, a year or more
before he died, when I
strolled into his room
at the tail end of a hot,
thousand-mile drive,
expecting nothing but
the clank of duty’s coin
dropping into its slot
when I called his name
with false cheer, then
babbled a bit of news
and held his paralyzed.
hand briefly in my own

—and he looked up,
just an instant, with light
somehow in his eyes
and said my name
in his thready croak,
the last words of his
I’ll remember. Just
an instant, my name
he hadn’t spoken in years.

by David Graham

Editor’s Note: Clear metaphors and imagery beautifully animate this narrative poem with the speaker’s difficult emotions.


9 responses to “My Father’s Last Words by David Graham”

  1. Sydney Lea Avatar

    Heart-wrenching and beautiful, David!

    1. David Graham Avatar

      Means a lot to me, Syd–thanks!

      1. Kevin Shearer Avatar
        Kevin Shearer

        Blessings David. Your dad who has passed from this world is,hopefully, with Our Creator. In the Home of our beginnings. Where the angels sing praises night and day to His glory. Amen This life is but a place to learn the lessons of soul to develop closer relationships with Our Creator.


  2. Bill Quinn Avatar
    Bill Quinn

    Very moving.

  3. Judith Waller Carroll Avatar

    Touching, beautiful, well crafted.

  4. richardsund Avatar

    No fun watching loved ones fade over time. My Mom got her wish 2 weeks ago by collapsing dead in her Assisted Living room. I hope the Poet heard correctly, and hope he is happy his Dad’s not suffering anymore. Also,a beautifully written poem.

  5. Nancy Smiler Levinson Avatar
    Nancy Smiler Levinson

    A beautifully flowing emotional narrative poem
    With admiration,

  6. crsunde Avatar

    A involving, revealing poem. Thank you. (Also, enjoyed exploring DG’s website.

  7. Robbi Nester Avatar

    Wonderful. You caught this moment perfectly.

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