i am the last person my father spoke to

my swollen father
wheel-chair bound
sitting beside my mother
stripped of speaking
by a stroke days earlier

his voice rough and faint
calling me by name
to take him to the bathroom
and explaining not a bedpan
in a simple request of his son

moments later on the toilet
surrounded by three nurses
my father there surrendered
despite the shared persistence
of his pacemaker and those women

we rushed my mother out
gathering in the hallway
trying to calm her solitary groaning
incomprehensible and terrified
like the muffled pleading from the room

people go to the bathroom and people die every second

—P.L. Thomas