Today's poem is by Kevin Stein

Upon Witnessing My Mother
Impossibly Blossom Above
My Father's Deathbed

Creek creek, the floor says, like water through
      oak woods. Creak creak, it says, little strokes
fell great oaks. She leans to him as the red rose

leans in sudden storm. Franklin says a word
      to the wise breaks your mother's back.
No, a needle a day keeps the doctor away.

Clouds say April showers bring big weeds.
      Today loose lips break my mother's back,
so she bends over him as day folds over night.

"Rita," his voice creaks, "water." Yes,
      a stitch in time breaks your mother's back,
meaning they saved him but from what cliff?

Sure, a beer a day makes a man healthy,
      wealthy, and wise, though when the well's dry,
you come to know the worth of water.

He whispers in her ear, begging to leave home
      for home. And what of his black cats?
For want of a nail, the hoarse floor creaks.

So she fluffs his pillow, adjusts the blinds,
      and blankets the word no one will say.
Step on a crack and lose your horseshoe.

Now she presses the button that brings
      May flowers and his head up for soup.
Spoons sink ships, loose lips sink soup.

Lifting him she grunts like a soul trucker.
      Little strokes say creek, creek, clouds say water,
water says peace upon his lips. Creak, creak,

his oak grove groans in blackberry breeze.
      Speak now, my son, or forever count your chickens.
Say, for want of a shovel we plant in the clouds.

Copyright © 2005 Kevin Stein All rights reserved
from The Kenyon Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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