FATHER AND DAUGHTER
Susan P. Blevins
In the room the air was still
heavy with exhausted grief
fumes of gin we’d drunk
each imprisoned by private pain
tight silence gripped us both
Father and daughter
Above our heads floorboards squeaking
morse code of death
heavy tread of men in black
preparing mother and wife, freshly dead
Abruptly the creak upon the stairs
stumbling with their heavy load
long black zippered bag
clutched clumsily between them
awkward, stagelit moment
My poor mother
how little dignity
bereft of pity
her final outing
In the dream,
I am in my room, childhood, England.
I am dressing,
don my black suede coat
feeling unaccountably sad.
I look at my watch,
I have five minutes to be ready.
It is 10.25 in the evening.
The inevitable event is at 10.30.
The next evening, perched wearily on my bed,
my childhood room,
far from my new home in Rome,
my mother lies dying in the next room.
Suddenly I remember last night’s dream
and stare at my watch.
It is 9.25.
In that instant the nurse calls out urgently
“Come now. Your mother is going.”
Shouting to my father to come upstairs at once,
I rush to her bed and hold her left hand.
My father enters the room and holds her right hand.
As her spirit leaves her body,
in my head I hear the rich orchestral sounds of Puccini’s La Boheme
her favorite opera,
fill the room with deafening intensity.
The moment when Mimmi dies her tragic death.
Is this a divine scherzo?
I release a sobbing chuckle
for my dream still had my watch one hour ahead,
on Italian time.
Susan Blevins was born in England, moved to Italy when she was twenty, and lived there twenty-six years. During that time she wrote a weekly column in a European English-language publication, and briefly had a radio program. After moving to the USA permanently in 1991, she has written gardening and garden articles for United States and European publications. She now lives in Houston, Texas, and is writing stories and poetry inspired by her adventurous life in many parts of the world. She loves to read, and is passionate about classical music and gardening. She seems to have mislaid her passion for cooking.