William De Witt Snodgrass

(January 5, 1926 – January 13, 2009 / Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania)

Sitting Outside


These lawn chairs and the chaise lounge
of bulky redwood were purchased for my father
twenty years ago, then plumped down in the yard
where he seldom went when he could still work
and never had stayed long. His left arm
in a sling, then lopped off, he smoked there or slept
while the weather lasted, watched what cars passed,
read stock reports, counted pills,
then dozed again. I didn’t go there
in those last weeks, sick of the delusions
they still maintained, their talk of plans
for some boat tour or a trip to the Bahamas
once he’d recovered. Under our willows,
this old set’s done well: we’ve sat with company,
read or taken notes—although the arm rests
get dry and splintery or wheels drop off
so the whole frame’s weakened if it’s hauled
across rough ground. Of course the trees,
too, may not last: leaves storm down,
branches crack off, the riddled bark
separates, then gets shed. I have a son, myself,
with things to be looked after. I sometimes think
since I’ve retired, sitting in the shade here
and feeling the winds shift, I must have been filled
with a child dread you could catch somebody’s dying
if you got too close. And you can’t be too sure.

Submitted: Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Edited: Tuesday, January 03, 2012

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