Parkinson’s Disease and a parent’s past and present are the subjects of Dion O’Reilly’s moving poem.
Between Me and Death
My father has Parkinson’s disease,
his fetal fingers take four minutes
opening the door.
He lists across the kitchen on tiptoe
catching up to momentum.
For the third time in twenty four hours, he asks
if I am going to bake that cake.
Do you need your Cimemet? I ask.
His lips are pumping horizontally,
sliding on his spit.
He pulls out his hankie, wipes,
and glares at me.
You’ll be struck like that,
My mother used to say
when I pulled an ugly look.
My father is struck with his angry face.
And he doesn’t like my question
retraces his way in a controlled fall.
Maybe I shouldn’t have asked.
But he doesn’t mind
as he never minded checking
the stormy knocking outside
our feeble locked doors, perhaps an intruder
out in the country, far from help.
When I was small, I wondered at his fearlessness
to walk into the blackness with nothing
but his balled fists.
Or how he stood, one summer day—
as I huddled behind his knees—
between me and a charging cow,
as she ran at me,
intent on my death.
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Photo by John Haslam/Flickr