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.

A Matter of Time

I set the date on my father’s new watch—
it had a round face
big gold numbers
a sweeping second hand—
or thought I had, until at noon it flipped
from SAT to SUN.
The watch had no regard
for my feelings of course,
no way of knowing my surprise
& frustration at its gears locked
in their own world of logic,
like my father—

who in the middle of my story
left the room to trudge slowly
up the stairs, to count his pills.
That’s when my mother, lying
on the couch mouthed the words,
He can’t tell time anymore.

I remember my father. In the ‘70s
he had a garden
where he grew swiss chard
and marijuana.
I remember his black beard,
how one day he shaved it off—

and finding a strange man
in my bedroom, I screamed.
My father’s smooth jaw opened
then and he bellowed: That’s the best
reaction I’ve gotten so far!

It is quiet now.
My mother and I discuss
an exchange of analog to digital—
but in the end we decide to let it be,
decide it’s only a matter of time
before he forgets what a watch
is even for and we too
become just mouths and eyes
set on shiny faces.

Rebecca L’Bahy

Rebecca L’Bahy is a writer who lives in Leominster, MA. She holds an MFA from Emerson College and has had her poetry published in numerous literary magazines including Brain,Child, Halfway Down the Stairs, the Mason Street Review, and Writers Resist. Currently, she works full time as a Title 1 tutor and leads creative writing workshops in her community. Her debut chapbook Talking Back will be forthcoming later this year from Finishing Line Press.