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Who is this old man, trousers rolled,
Tottering about the home of my father?
My father, vigorous, strong, who carried me on his shoulders and
Told me stories of tigers and rocketships.

Now I reach out and take this old man’s arm so he does not stumble
And fret when he descends a set of stairs.

I see my father still, hidden behind those eyes.
A flash of defiance at the passage of time that has rendered him
Fearful and forgetting of his own childrens’ names.

“I barely recognized you,” he says to me
With wonder in his voice. It has been
Sixteen years since he was any more than a voice
On the telephone and my hair is now red
And my cheekbones could cut paper.

He talks, more monologue than dialogue
Telling stories of his life I have never heard before
As if he can see the darkness that comes for him
And rushes to speak the story of his life
Before the door closes and there is silence.

I would reach out and take that trembling hand
To keep him from crossing that threshold just yet.
“Tell me about how you met Mother,” I say,
and then, “Tell me about the time…” for I fear that
silence also, when my Storyteller, the One who
carried me to bed and tucked me in with words
falls silent.

Tell me one more story.

Brigit Thomas—May, 2012


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