On Finding A Small Yellow Car In My Pocket After Arriving At the Office.

October 29, 2010

When he tilts his head back a little and looks at me, I feel strength build. The soft whisper of his breath that brushes across my lips and face set off a chain of explosions inside me. The crescendo of dedication and compassion and pride are like a rushing, boiling windstorm, a triumphant roaring of a mezzo forte symphony at its zenith in my soul. In that moment, the air between us is infused with some type of syrupy electricity, a current of calm energy that is unexplained in its sensation. He catches a glimpse of something supernaturally funny, or joyful, in our closeness and he smiles at me with a glittering flash of complete happiness in his eyes. On the outer edges of my consciousness I understand what he sees, and I feel laughter well up deep inside my chest. During this distracted and clouded moment of rapture, he must have slipped a car in my pocket.

  ———]+[———

I love my Son. He loves me, but his small and choppy whitecap of love toward me is met by a thundering tsunami in return. At two years, he is incapable of knowing just to what measures I would take this. I would bloody myself on the street for him, and linebacker a locomotive to keep him from harm. I would even inflict punishment on him, with love, to protect him from dangers and consequences he has never even contemplated.

———]+[———

He leans his face slowly in, and kisses me with one sweet instant of emotion. It’s a peck, and I grit my teeth to keep from melting into incoherence. I feel unworthy, but he worships me. I am his Father and that makes me worthy to him. It is in accordance with the ancient order, firmly established before time began.

———]+[———

He is propelled to me by the bond of who I am, not what I do. In this moment of instinct and innocence he is showing me that he loves me, and he is drawn to my face magnetically. If I am not looking at him, he turns my chin toward him with a small but insistent hand. Then, when I make eye contact with him, he is overpowered and it is too much so he turns away sheepishly. He grins as his eyes close slowly a couple times, and he lays his head high on my chest, up under my chin. And stays there for a minute.

I love you, JP.

I wuv you too, dad.

 

My Son in Whom I delight.

One Minute To Midnight

 

Silently, violently cursing myself for

not remembering my abominable cellphone

With the desired number.

 

My wife’s tense foot slams into my

electrified knee as she lurches

up onto the gurney to be with

our bruised angel.

 

Screams, horrible heart-stopping torrential cries

Tear my eardrums and the rend

Is straight to my soul

as the ******* accursed ******* needle punctures

her mint-condition, brand-new

sweet, pure, arm and vein.

 

My forehead pours rivulets of fury.

Maddening rage courses my jugular

as my revolting fists clench her

thighs and immobilize her innocent body

for the hated shard of a life-replenishing

dose of lactated Ringers.

 

I detest infection.

Loathsome unforgivable weakening Rash of Darkness.

Self-pity of the weak wasted.

I’m not going any ******* where.

None of them are a remote concern to me

other than to

keep their ******* sickness to themselves.

 

In my mind, I upend the “tree”,

splashing Ringers all over this wretched cubicle

and slam it forcefully into the male nurse’s forehead.

GET. THE. ****. OFF. MY. DAUGHTER.

Yet the cranberry blood surges into the plastic tube

and then I detest

plastic tubes.

 

Yes, I’m perfectly fine.

My face, heart, mind, inner screams undoubtedly

Betray my inner panic and tormented roars.

The hated tube has been whisked off to a lab

by some yawning high school drop-out

Worker Bee,

and cc after cc is disappearing

into my Angel’s arm.

 

Her mother, valor incarnate,

cups her throbbing temples and reassures

despite the uncertainty.

No, Hun, there’s no Granola Bar in

the diaper bag.

Would it kill them to enlist

somebody who gives a ****?

 

I rage and weep inside.

Outside, I trust my shell appears somewhat

Calm.

Probably sullen though, I can’t hide my feelings.

Never could.

What congestion?

What ******* catheter?

What inner ear?

 

Quieter now she rests on her Mother’s breast,

Tender elbow immobilized.

An odd angle with “skin friendly” tape

And the infuriatingly necessary one-eighth inch

Hose of liquid.

So what now, Doc?

You better not be on a smoke break,

You well-educated **** Bag.

You are well-educated,

Aren’t you?

I nod.

It’s about

Ten ‘till midnight.

 

Thank you for buying so many groceries today.

I almost have enough room to entirely

Drain my head in ink on the back of this reciept.

Strangely cool, my skin now feels, from residual sweat.

 

Less of the rush now. Nice to know…

Wow sudden exhilaration as the live heart monitor

Shows beautiful purple hills and valleys in rapid

Blip, blip, blip.

So she’s probably going to be fine…

She has to be.

 

At least she’s not Beet red anymore.

Inwardly the profanity shames and embarrasses me

But I know of no other vocabulary that

Captures the same.

Forgive me Father.

 

I now realize, with all of the tear-welling pain

My heart can bear,

Just how impossible it would be to see

not-so-razor-sharp metal pierce the skin

Of your most precious only begotten child

And to will yourself to not

destroy all participants.

thank You for life.

252359JUN02

 

This poem was scrawled angrily on the back of a Commissary receipt one night in a U.S. Army Hospital, where we had rushed our 3 month old first baby girl after she was inconsolable. Being an Army Captain at the time was fairly stressful, but nothing compared to arriving home to find my wife, a brand new mom, genuinely scared and at her limit on what to do for a daughter who would not eat or sleep, only cry. All was well after some tense hours in the NICU, but the mark this event left on me as a new dad was profound. -DD

Why Am I Here?

Whyamihere

An angry mechanical squeal still rings in my ears, the sound of a carpenter’s circular power saw grinding to a halt as it chews into the gristle instep of a steel-toe work boot. An even angrier yell of human pain echoes with immediate fervor, as commotion and splattering blood identify the scene of the accident.

Our contract was to finalize a dozen multi-story tract homes by month’s end, and for the past 6 days my guys have been measuring blueprint plans, hammering joist supports, and now sawing their own feet virtually in half, all in hopes of completing this construction job on schedule.

This morning we were a half-day ahead of schedule. Now, I get to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting here in the local emergency room, waiting in suspended animation as the kind but overworked medical staff performs triage on my limping wood frame foreman. They think they can save the teriyaki of Mike’s toes, but dozens of stitches and a few weeks of recovery are in his future. Idiot.

I glare at the creeping hands of the dusty institutional wall clock, noting that several more hours of work time would have remained for this day, now lost forever. I glance away bitterly, and see the disinterested faces of a half-dozen patients lounging in the stiflingly inactive waiting room with me. The sleepy despondency is a reminder of how much I dislike Florida’s community medical facilities, all Doc-in-a-box facilities, really. The sadness they bring forces me to acknowledge the perpetual state of our human frailty. Not to mention the germs I imagine I can see crawling on the furniture. Maybe a soda would help.

God, why could he not have let off on the saw control just a few inches earlier? Why did the blade go BEHIND the steel toe, and not ABOVE the steel toe? Why am I here at a hospital when I should be out at the site finishing up unit 17? Where’s that dollar I had from my “roach coach” purchase earlier today?

 As I amble out the front sliding doors into the courtyard entry way, I peer around the few palm tree trunks for the familiar glow of a vending machine in the humid sub-tropical afternoon twilight. Imagining the wet taste of a cool, fizzing cola makes me start to forget the lost man-hours this accident has caused, when I suddenly see her.

Laboring down the concrete walkway from Admittance & Release, a middle-aged woman gazes down at the teen girl who is slumped weakly against her side, stumbling along, each step an exhausting ordeal. The girl is staring ahead, unseeingly, unaware of the older woman’s loving and concerned gaze.

I cannot take my eyes from the girl. Her golden chocolate skin is dotted with dark patches, the sweatshirt sleeves end at bone-thin wrists and knobby but delicate hands hold up the hospital bracelets on each arm. Her scalp shines like a bowling ball, not a tuft of hair. A knitted beanie cap has apparently slipped back off of her head, and is clasped behind the older woman’s arm as it circles the girl’s shoulders in support.

“I… just can’t.”  She is forcing the words to come, even as the shortness of breath is evident and wheezing.

“I just can’t fight any more. I just can’t take this, the treatments, the…everything!” A sob escapes, before the tragic declaration.

“ I give up!”

As she says the words, tears begin to rush through the sieve of pain in her sunken eyes. This is the kind of weeping where it is as if pieces of her soul are leaking out with the tears, as parts of her very essence rain out and crumble down her cheeks. My soul silently floods with anger, and my hands begin to shake slightly. It’s as if a wave of pain has just launched from this girl, and hit me square in my spirit.

The hopelessness is crushing, and I know why she wants to give up. She has used every ounce of fortitude, every portion of resistance, every measure of willpower. She is an absolute stranger. She is not even the same race as me. But as we pass on the walkway and I look into her eyes, it is as if she is my daughter.

And she is in so much pain.

The sorrow chokes me and I can barely see.

God. Oh God. Why? Give her more days, just a few more. Give her hope, that this is a light and momentary trouble. She is Yours. Save Her.

 

As I silently and violently leap from within myself and touch heaven, imploring the Savior for mercy and encouragement and peace for this much too young cancer victim…

 

I know why I’m here.

 

This is a work of fiction, and I wish cancer was as well. -DD

συκών (Greek for “figs”)

“Here is the proof that what I say is true: This year you will eat only what grows up by itself,
and next year you will eat what springs up from that.
But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them;
you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit.”

  • Isaiah 37:30-32