fragility (and then i realize)

for Rose, my mother, and Keith, my father

i have been preparing for weeks and weeks
it may be months (it may have been forever)
for the death of my father swollen

bent over and barely able to stand or walk
without the hand and arm of someone else
he has become both smaller and larger than ever

the embodiment of a man having carried
for far too long the weight of the world
on shoulders that could bear only so long

and then the early morning phone call
with his voice imploring me “son, i need you”
my mother unconscious in my childhood bedroom floor

a day that becomes a blur of attending to fragile parents
a mother struck unable to speak and my infirm father
carted by wheel chair through two hospitals in her wake

my nephew and i begin reaching out to my aunts and uncle
although we struggle to reach my sister who seems a ghost
reminding us all that everything human is instant fragility

at each pause in the day i do my mental check
to be sure i am the responsible son doing all i can
but i have a nagging feeling i haven’t told someone

and then i realize

i want to call my mother and make sure she knows
where we all are and what we are doing and just maybe
just maybe i can tell her everything will be all right

—P.L. Thomas