Father’s Last Hour – Poetry by Judith Salerno

Eastman Johnson – The Field Hospital

I carry you,
an ancient, broken child
from chair to bed.
You are dissolving,
pulling inward, leaving
no sign of who you were.
As body surrenders to decay
and mind follows—
your mouth says “railroad” when
you mean clock.

It seems only days
since you carried me,
an ailing, broken child from
chair to bed,
with arms strong enough
to heal and hold,
and guide.

I try to sing to you
as you withdraw
into yourself, but
by the time I think of doing this,
you seem already gone.
Softly, between my trembling notes,
you leave for home.

You crumple as they lift
you to the gurney.
Your mouth drops open.
I shudder at your
ragdoll frame, a sudden sign
that life within has fled.
I try to remember,
but fail to remember,
as you disappear down the hall
that I am not alone.


About the Poet

Judith Salerno is a native of Massachusetts. She has been living with a disability since she was a child and has had a lifelong calling to write poetry.

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5 thoughts on “Father’s Last Hour – Poetry by Judith Salerno

  1. I’m at a loss for words. How incredibly moving this is. I am sorry for her loss. I am also grateful she is willing to share these beautiful words with us.

  2. I come to this beautiful piece of poetry from the same place as the poet. Reading this inspired me to regard my own caregiving tasks as something beautiful.

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