Shoshauna Shy

Hospice

Tell him a nice memory you have

my mother prompts while we sit 

either side of the bed where my dad lays.

I skuddle backwards for scraps that feature

only he and I, but what leaps to mind 


are his eyes dimming with disappointment,

his lips tight in justification, and the air 

just snapped to send sparks sky-high.

I try again and find a favorite memory to 

mention: lunches at a snack bar in Santa Fe 

after he was done at the brokerage.

I offer this but he says he does not recall

those at all.


Yesterday when we arrived, he threw his lunch 

off the tray and raged at my mother for not

getting there sooner.

The staff injected him in the thigh with a drug

intended to defuse another that lit his fuse.

Never threw stuff before  my mother insisted


forgetting that once he threw his dinner

at me. I was 17 and dating a man he hated.

The look on his face when he did that 

matches what we see now.

If Prednisone shows what rears beneath,

is this the true him without the filter? 

My mother laughs as if that will coax him 


back to normalcy.

I yank her away as he reaches to twist her 

off her feet.

This isn’t him!  she claims

because that’s what she has to believe.


Shoshauna Shy is the author of five collections of poetry, and the founder of the Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf program, and the Woodrow Hall Top Shelf awards.