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fatherhood, poetry, Series

Fixing Daddy, #7

Fixing Daddy

He tips to the thermostat, adjusts

it to heat the house before

she awakens, decides what to make

for the first of four meals

he’ll prepare that day.

An alarm only he can hear

summons, and he’s by her bed,

rolling the insulin vial between

his hands like a lemon, warming

the clear fluid before she’s allowed

to inject it.  He hovers until the last

spot of drawn blood is wiped away. 

I watch him wire himself to her

piece by piece, give her a dose

of something at three-hour intervals

until the pain she can’t recount is his,

until her oxygen-starved breath

has him fighting for his own, until

he’s a self sacrificed—never mind

that he wrestled death for 5 long

months, pinned it just last year.  “Relax,”

I plead, “Beck and call is your order, Dad,

not the doctor’s.”  “I’m not an invalid,

James,” Mama assures.  He won’t

loosen the wires, only knows how

to tighten them, ensure his snap

to her every move—doesn’t see 

his heart wink, fool him that he can

fix her.  I believe no less when mine

signals the same, tells me I can fix

him, bring back the foot stomping

in his full-bodied laughter, the fun

Dad I once knew. 

“Let me do it,” he protests, his voice

calling up mine at six, learning to do

something hard, knowing I need help,

but turning it away until I break.

Carolyn Joyner is a DC-based poet and writer.

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About Abdul Ali

I'm a fellow at American University studying creative nonfiction and poetry. I write across a few genres but it's all brought together by larger questions about culture.

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