The day prior to Christmas Eve,
He had one of his fits. Norwegian stubbornness
Had made him contumacious, the variety of which
I hope to one day obtain, He asked
For help to his own bed.
I often wonder what happens
When you cut down a tree, but don’t pull
The stump, how exactly does it decompose?
He existed in a universe where that process
Is all about shriveling.
His oak body had become so light,
And the sun bounced off the snow
In just such a way that
His true essence was revealed
To his daughter and me.
I don’t know how, but he retained
His own scent throughout the whole thing.
Sweat and some aftershave
I would swear they only ever made
For him. I want to smell like him.
When he said my brother’s name
While staring into my eyes,
And then had the most pitiable look in his own,
I cried, and didn’t correct him.
We understood each other.
That was the last walk
Of the greatest man I ever met.
He taught me the value
Of wearing a suit and drinking beer
Just cause you can.
Hospitals don’t smell any different
Even the day before Christmas,
The room couldn’t stay dark
Blue blinds rendered helpless
with the way the sun bounced off the snow.
He rattled all through the night
Like his old Town Car did
When it kicked alive in the barn
In defiance of god
And negative temperatures.
Us, the left behind family,
Would come and go all night,
From the uncomfortable chair
In the room all the way
To the one in the hall.
He came in like a thunderstorm,
Of this I’m sure,
His world always seemed
Like a tamed hurricane,
With him at the eye.
He left in a fit of awful gasps.
The same gasps one sees
When a fish is left out of water
This death rattle of kings.
She leaned over him,
Her black cloak drenched
In meaningful sequin.
Pale hands illuminated
By the moon bouncing off the snow.
I think I was the only one
Who watched her kiss him
Like a lover, and stroke
That thick, black hair
Like a mother.
All this, illuminated
With blue light from hospital blinds
And fresh white Christmas snow.
All this, and still wrapped presents