Approaching a Near-Death Experience with Dad

For crying out loud,

More than one inch

In front

Of my old schnozzle,

Getting to be far too much.

 

In fact,

For an old man like me,

Less vision, more fog,

I almost catch sight of

 

And then

In all honesty

I don’t see anything much,

Well, nothing of note, I mean

Not like I used to, anyway.

 

Not even the meaning

Behind agape stymies me

And the adage of old age recipes.

No longer do they make any sense.

Nothing does. The fact the matter is:

A stark blankness closing in,

Overtaking my life.

My life involving great distances

And stress-ridden sequences

Of nothing seemingly as significant as breath.

Nothing in life is this unfair as what happens in old age, my father said.

It is like an illness from which you can never recover.

Years are like burrs that stick inside the old leather shoe.

 

Unerring the state of blankness,

The wall that we run into.

Ruminating about old age

And death unceasingly

Is that what we meant to do?

Even among Tibetan lineages

Are we any less than sages?

 

What do we want and truly desire?

What is it you used to mean to me,

That you no longer mean to me at all?

Throw out all the garden furniture.

 

Dragging forth onerous odes

Logged out of last year’s

Encumbrance of remembrance,

The final rounding up of unused

Minutes and stark memoirs.

All repositories of memory’s

Mnemonic devices and gimmicks

Those that so puzzling and confusing,

Those required to check out all the boxes.

.

Why is it we have become so cleverly habituated?

Is it the cursory nature of epistolary episodes,

Vehicular homicides,

Momentarily envisioned and suspended

Among incredulous, scandalous,

Grief-ridden, acts of disbelief rife with innuendo?

 

To be found so very fond

Of the fearful art of dreaming, what does it mean?

Until the very last moment we draw breath,

When we are found dead, with a smile pasted on the face,

Why shed a tear? Defeat is not defeat, my dear.

Gallstones, though, are another matter. Spousal abuse?

Why fear Fear’s reprisal in acts of petty arousal?

 

How does anyone expect

Your homebound kind

Of a Dad to survive

To go forth into this world

Without a handy set of blinders on?

If he is found smack

In the middle of the road,

Wondering why time

May have forgotten

What he was about,

All those philanthropic causes

For which he alone died

Oblivious of karma’s fated dance

Of circumstance,

Is there any comment you can make

Regarding all this wind

Shaking barley fields

Into pavilions

Of unguessed emptiness?

Must you persist

In loving life this much

Just to exist

Because you prefer

The art of staying alive?

 

So, Mom must have turned

The oven on a bit too high at times?

Is that true? I asked. Perhaps, I should not have asked.

Yes, I died. More than once, my Dad replied.

 

What really happened, I asked.

Oh, she always had her head

Screwed on all right in most places

I saw her and knew her.

Tight enough seemed enough for most people.

You know I told you, I surrendered

When I met her at that cabana by the sea.

 

I felt she was OK with you, Dad,

And you, were you OK with her?

I mean OK with Mum.

You were, weren’t you?

 

I didn’t know anything for sure.

In conversation,

We never know or learn anything.

That’s when Dad bit his lip

For emphasis and I went silent.

 

Just offering my opinion,

Dad, I said,

Not wishing to offend anyone,

Or go over his head.

 

Hey, Dad,

Did you really like what you did?

I mean were you into it,

Making grape jelly,

Imbibing cups

Of tepid hibiscus tea,

All those years of your life?

With no one but Mum

At the helm,

And not even my sister

When she was away

To bail you out,

What was that really like?

 

 

At five, sitting

In the back seat

Of the Roadster,

I was almost set free that day

Inside what seemed a crazy

Rock n’ Roll

Or Roller Coaster ride

To God knows where

I could never decide

Whether I did believe

In spirit guides or not.

 

Do they exist?

I felt I never prayed

Hard enough

During the course of my life,

That ended so suddenly.

 

The whole time

You were driving.

Dad, do you know

What I mean?

Do you know how hard I prayed?

Just so you know, today.

I did believe in God.

 

I was praying the whole time.

Seemed as if my soul

Would never find out,

I actually enjoyed

Being dead, in winter,

Zipped up like I was

In that fashionable

Kid-proof plastic

And tiny blue snowsuit of mine.

 

Go ahead, Dad, swear

Under your breath!

Roar a little more!

Please, just start up the car,

Will you again, Dad

Just this once?

 

Driving straight

As an arrow,

Straight ahead into the chant way of the night sky,

As you have always been want to do

Ever since the day I was born.

 

I told you, Dad, that last day

We were together,

I would willingly agree

To wear a dunce camp

All the rest of my days

If only you would listen.

Just slow down a little,

Please, will you listen?

 

Anything more to tell you?

Anything more to say?

Turn right

At the next traffic light,

Before the railway crossing

Be sure to follow the signs

And go that way.

 

These are the last words

I remember

That’s all I was going to say

But I also wanted

To add something:

 

I love you Dad,

No matter what you do,

I will still love you.

I make no judgements

About my life, your life,

Would you say the same to me?

 

What difference

Would it make?

For I was already dead

And had no more to say that day

I had no more to say.