Doing Time


          --- for my father

He liked to watch the light
of the clock face flicker on
his only indication
of the day
disappearing into night
5:00 PM

lit up a sea-green moon
in a room shrouded white.
He would count the hours
and the miles
from the time my plane touched
down to the second of arrival.
I’d offer him stories of the taxi man;
of a city called

where blueberries grew
high as wisteria vines.
The furthest west he ever traveled:
a cardiac chair by the bed,
the shower stall
in the distance
with a plastic tubes up his nose, down his throat.
How to secure the word
write the weight
of a single second
inured in the not-
living, the not-dying —
infinite hospital evenings hopelessly endured.

Susan Rich is the author of Cures Include Travel and winner of the PEN USA Poetry Award and the Peace Corps Writers Award for The Cartographer’s Tongue / Poems of the World. Her work recently appears in The Gettysburg Review, Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, New England Review, Poetry International, and Women’s Review of Books. Her third collection, The Alchemist’s Kitchen is forthcoming from White Pine Press.

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