Volume 24, Number 3

If VAs Were Magical Places

His nurse tells me that my father’s had a tough
time of things. He’s refusing treatment, knocking
down trays, has threatened to leave while his
heart beats as fast as rapid fire—this open-mouth,
snoring, slight of a man who is now
a rough idea of what he once was.

I apologize for my father. I tell the nurse,
my father’s a difficult man—the nurse nods.
He knows men like my father, men who
were once gryphons guarding home.
The nurse tells me I can wake my father,
but I don’t. Instead, I sit in the chair near the window,
listen to the music of monitor, the rhythm of his snore,

think about checking his mail, feeding his dog,
cleaning his sanctum, his tomb. When he wakes
he says he hopes to get a hug someday. I smile,
then talk about necessary things. When I leave
his room, holding his keys so tight they imprint
on my hand, I think about his shoulder-blades,
exposed bone where wings used to be.

—Kateema Lee