The Patient Admits

I could not stand waiting for my father to come
through my bedroom door, so he could get into bed
with me. Some nights I fell asleep before he stumbled
into my room. Other nights I counted sheep. Counted
breath. Counted the bumps on the popcorn ceiling until
he’d stagger down the long hallway, and I’d stay as still
as possible, hoping he’d go straight into his bedroom.
The one next to mine. The one furthest from mom’s.
Sometimes that worked. And sometimes it didn’t.
And the waiting. The waiting. Imagine knowing
the exact moment an accident will kill your children,
or being told exact day you will die, and you are helpless
to stop it. Or avoid it. So, one time, just once, you seek
it out. Because you can’t take the waiting anymore.
One night you find yourself standing in the open door
of your father’s bedroom. Empty. You tiptoe past
your mother’s closed bedroom door, down
the twenty steps to the foyer, across ugly mustard linoleum,
into the monochrome den, where your father sleeps
and snores, television humming snow, and (just once,
just once, you swear, just once) you whisper, Dad.