The Poet’s Voice

Back at Mount Sinai Dad’s still asleep, exhausted by the chemo. The doctors won’t admit it but I can tell they don’t give him much of a chance. They’re wrong of course. He may be silent. He may be lying there with his belly pointing at the ceiling, tubes going in and out of everywhere, but behind the grey eyelids, behind the trembling lashes, his brain is working. Thinking of ways to make their job as difficult as possible.

I think about Mom being one floor down—different diseases, different floors. It’s a lot like Sam’s: rock at the entrance, folk one floor up. Classical at the top, as if to make certain you have the chance to hear Moby Grape or the Doors before you’re safely behind the barricades with Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

For the moment Dad is classical, filed with the choral works of Verdi and Fauré. The requiems. Mom is folk, steeped in tradition but being updated—edit one section of bowel, no more colitis, we hope. It was Mom who always told me hope’s a tricky thing. Even though you want to keep it close, you need to be wary.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 7. Purchase the book to read the full piece.