Father, I watch you poised beside the bed
trembling against your metal walker
gathering strength for the grand move
to the dressing table across the room.
You will reach that table in minutes
grasp up your electric razor
cock your head back, peer around
the blur of your cataract
earnestly inspect this instrument
that every morning roughs your skin.
You will sit one hour at the table
elaborately shaving your bristly face:
slow movement, finding and pressing the switch
cautious scrubbing atop the beard
opening of the razor’s portal,
wire brush, painstaking cleaning
of metal spotless just the day before.
Your life is lived between this bed and table
the twice a day journey down the bathroom hall
it is a good life, filled with meaning and pleasure:
the triumph of your foot arched out and touching
the morning floor, round grip of your hands still
strong against the bedstead, slow haul up
to grip the walker’s arms, your smile when you
know that one more time you can make it.
And lying in bed at night, the stories you can tell
all about the old times, when fire balloons filled
the Fourth of July sky, Halley’s comet flung itself
across the firmament, you stood watching, spellbound,
in the narrow lanes below.
And when I tell you that grandfather spoke to me
that he will hold your hand and guide you
across the wild expanse of earth and heaven,
you slowly nod your head against the pillow,
close your eyes and whisper
stories of your father and our fathers.
When you sleep I know you dream
of love and light and every radiant glory
then each morning you begin
the ceremony of the razor
firm hand, warm eye, narrow movement
blessing you and me, our slow time together,
our still eternity.