A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
At least my father did not betray anyone.
It was the plaque in his brain that betrayed him.
As for my ex—well, time passes, and I see
how some take what they need and even manage
to believe the lies they tell. That’s as far as I’d go,
if I were writing about him.
Others don’t know they’re speaking falsehoods.
The year before his diagnosis, Dad began
to introduce himself as if he were still Lieutenant
Colonel Hollander, as if the next 40 years
had never happened. Perhaps plaque is so hungry
it eats away memory scores at a time.
It was summer and he stood at the front door
in his winter coat and hat watching something
through the little rectangular window.
Traffic? Children at the crosswalk?
Birds in the old cherry tree on the front lawn
we didn’t know had been slowly dying?
My marriage was like that, despite its profusions
of blooms. None of us knew how soon that tree
would thud down during a late summer storm,
the tips of its branches scratching the front door,
my father’s face framed in its window,
the few words he still knew—
hollow little grunting sounds, really—
escaping from his throat like birds.
Copyright 2018 Andrea Hollander Budy
Andrea Hollander moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011, after many years in the Arkansas Ozarks, where she ran a bed & breakfast for 15 years and served as the Writer-in-Residence at Lyon College for 22. Hollander’s 5th full-length poetry collection, Blue Mistaken for Sky, is due from Autumn House Press in September 2018.