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Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
by Mary Jo Balistreri

Today he gets a flu shot. Picks up a sliver
in his finger at the clinic. He's angry
at the nurse for taking too much blood.
A person only has so much.

He washes a few dishes in a sink heavy with suds,
flash of Dad's yellow gloves in and out of bubbles
like a canary at its bath. He takes this chore seriously,
does not notice or care that water runs
down the cabinets and splashes onto the floor.

Risen from the dead of a sub-dural hematoma, he is
a handful, this eighty-nine-year-old father.
Shiny-eyed with the unexpected gift of second sight,
Dad craves independence, dislikes being
questioned, becomes cagey and stubborn, and moves
beyond the ability of unused legs teetering toward disaster.

In the slant of late afternoon sun, I sit at the table
and ponder the turn of events. I think of Martha and Mary,
wonder how they coped with Lazarus newly emerged
from the tomb. Were they, too, stunned into disbelief,
that he had come back the same, but somehow different?

Evening, and Dad curls up in his lounge chair, dinner napkin clutched
in his hand like a small stuffed animal. Willy Nelson sings
in the background and I watch Dad's closed eyelids flutter like wings.
On a night like this, did Mary sigh, look upon her brother
like I look at Dad, and say to Martha,
         Look how tender, how soundly he sleeps.


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