“The Night Before My Father’s Surgery” by Jeanette Clough

Jeanette Clough


Sometime after 7:30 tomorrow morning
blood will proceed into one machine
while lungs are taken over
by another. The brain goes grey,
taking the five senses with it.
I wonder where the person goes, where I
would go. Perhaps the body’s need is great

to keep the intangible thing
that makes it more than water and chemicals.
And so, my father, I doubt you will roam
far. In your detachment, others may visit you:
the brother who died last year, the mother
who went before. Maybe you’ll visit me

down the hall, and I won’t know
and you won’t remember. Leaving the room,
the look that might be the last.
Some day there will be such a look
and this, this, is practice.

from Rattle #9, Summer 1998


Jeanette Clough: “I’ve made a living as a waitress, librarian on a ship, dance teacher, fire chaser, and presently work for the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.” (web)

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