How well you understood the final requirements.

As we watched your father lie dying in the small room

just off the kitchen, his pain took him from us, day

by day.  You lifted him onto the commode, carved

a milk jug that he could hold to his penis.  At night

you took his voice with us, keeping it next

to our bed in the small speaker box, and you slept

while I listened for his breathing to change

into the calling of your name so that you could rise

from your sleep and go to him with your strong, broad

back.  Your voice would join his then in the box at my side,

would let me let go into blessed absence.  Now

he has let go for the last time.  You helped them

wash his body, put it in the clear plastic bag, and carry it

out the front door.  And now, I grow fearful of our own

silence we carry inside.  Of your body

climbing on top of mine and barely

moving, of my body underneath, sunken

by your weight.  Again and again in our rented rooms

you drift toward me then away.  As if you needed

a marker to nudge before going on.  As if you

feared lingering in the warm current of flesh

on flesh.  Together we wait for some wind

to lift us.  As if we were not meant to be

the wingless, grown children we are,

awkward on earth.

Denise Pendleton holds an MFA in Poetry from Washington University. Her poems have appeared in American Sports Poems, Northwest Review, Tar River Poetry,and Kerning among others. Pendleton has almost retired from years of directing a variety of nonprofit programs that promote reading for all ages.