The Old Man’s Last Words

"Who wants flowers when you're dead?  Nobody."
                              -Holden Caulfield
from Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger



He nudged me from a dream of nothing, nothingness,

speaking softly in an old man’s voice I knew I knew,

but hadn’t quite heard, before.

He said he was tired from tending too long

to buried, bygone agonies, alone.

(we did plant those together)

He said regret was a weed-choked garden now;

and that he just couldn’t bear the thought

of one more flower-less November — —


I told him that unbearable was: to always remember

how the month turns bitter,

cold, all at once, then grows

hair-less and gaunt from decay

but mostly, the way its chemo-therapied mouth starts hissing;

hurls poisoned teeth out, with spittle-ed grief and accusations,

“And don’t be bringing any goddamned flowers to my grave!”


Do you forgive me now?

he said, you sullen thing, and do you listen?

I was half of your making; you do not own exclusive rights

to every tight-lipped misery and sadness you’ve been saving.

You originated from carboned jeremiad,

with silences already inked into your skin

and November will always be too violent for either of us now — —

I was only ever pleading you’d not wait past my last season

to bother to gather and bring to me flowers

and of course, I do forgive you

(still, that garden can grow only weeds for us now.)



8 thoughts on “The Old Man’s Last Words

  1. This is so heart felt. Relationships with fathers can be so complicated. I related immediately, as my own mother is expressing her tiredness, a desire to let go. The garden imagery and the dialogue work well. Nice to have come across your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi V.J.!
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. Coming to terms with the loss of a parent is one of the hardest things in life. The worst regret for me are all of the things we left unsaid. Nineteen years, and I still can’t shake it. I hope you and your mother share while you can. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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