Cruise Control

Wake up 5:30 AM
Walk an hour on the treadmill
Slip outside to get the newspaper
Press the button and BEEP a cup of coffee
Check news and email, another day
Back the Land Cruiser out of the driveway

Take 690 West to N. Geddes
Drive Genesee Street to Charles Avenue
Look at teeth all day, fix teeth all day
Smell teeth all day in the tiny spaces
Appease the current menopausal onslaught
Back the Land Cruiser out of the parking lot

Head up to Westvale Drive
Arrive at the white house with red shutters
Exercise patience, care, precision, devotion
Try not to remember what it used to be like
Lift, push, move past what she can’t beat
Back the Land Cruiser onto the street

Double back to the interstate, East this time
Exit on Teal and take the back roads this way
Think about your wife of thirty-plus years
Size up your three sons, your daughter in your mind
Calculate the numbers and know they’ve been worth the load
Park the Land Cruiser at home on 103 Cross Road

written in 2007 for my father, Tim

Photo Credit: Geancarlo Peruzzolo

In April, I’m posting a poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month. Since yesterday’s post was a tribute to my mother, I thought I’d follow suit with a poem celebrating my father’s most quiet and unassuming strength. When this poem was written, my grandmother was at the beginning of a losing battle with dementia, and my dad was the one cognizantly fighting that battle, then and for years to come. It’s as though he’d start his day getting the strength he needed to run a dental practice, care for Grams, and put us four kids through college… and the closest I’d ever hear him get to complaining was a joke at the door, “It’s dog eat dog out there, honey.” Often, it was, but Dad protected us all from so much of that, and this poem thanks him for his sacrifice.

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