Rebecca L’Bahy: Fear Is Your Passenger

and today in carpool
driving the teenage girls home
after their NYC field trip,
you couldn’t remember
the Statue of Liberty.
Not that you couldn’t see her—
her masculine robed form
weather beaten green
vacant eyes like shades
pulled down over thought—
but the three words you needed
to name her floated somewhere
out there in the harbor—

out of reach and you flailed,
drowning for those words
the way your father does—

every conversation with him now
a game of charades
his hands pleading with the air
banging against the arm of the chair
when your desperate guesses
are useless and wrong.

How must it be to lose so much
so slowly
you can see it happening,
so slowly
you are aware
of the losing
aware of everything moving
too quickly for you to follow
and so you choose to leave
the phone ringing
dining room table
television drama
throwing up your hands

They talk too fast!
You wish you could forget
the time you caught your father
watching a children’s television show,
not just watching—engrossed
his mouth half-open
in concentration
and the awful moment when
he caught you looking
and the mouth snapped shut—
both of you pretending
nothing had happened.

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