Only So Much

Written by
Posted in

Dad calls my name 
in the chaos of unlit morning,
says, Get up. 

He is in a starched shirt and tie, shaved,
small piece of reddened tissue on his chin. 
Mom left yesterday, Sunday.  

Dad has no choice but to take me with him  
to Queens where he manufactures fruit drinks,  
liquid synthetics that burn the back of throats.  

He tells me on the train that Mom has a bad heart— 
an orange- and grape-flavored reformulation, 
a fact like new weather.  

The air outside the plant is dense 
with sweet rot and acrid chemicals; 
the ground by the door seethes: cockroaches.  

I stop, step back. Dad walks through them,  
turns, looks at me, waits. I hold up my arms— 
but on this morning we commuted 

on a double-decker train and city busses 
and arrived at Dad’s refusal 
to lift me. 

I ask once more but know 
I will do it, nearly wetting my tights.
Though I am only five, I understand.

The truth will repeat itself
with every hospital stay:
there is only so much he can do without her.

H.E. Fisher’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in Novus Literary Arts Journal, Whale Road Review, At Length, Unearthed, Indianapolis Review, Miracle Monocle, SWWIM, and Canary, among other publications. H.E. is the editor of (Re) An Ideas Journal. Her first collection, STERILE FIELD (Free Lines Press) and chapbook, JANE ALMOST ALWAYS SMILES (Moonstone Press), are both forthcoming.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN