The night Joe left

October 2, 2007

Joe asks me
to stay,
to keep
the earthly vigil
into this night.
He speaks no words;
nor do his eyes
look upon me.
No one knows
except he
and I.

This dad cannot
take leave of his family
while lying helpless –
unable to whisper
“don’t worry”
unable to say

the others begin
to go home.

It will be better
this way.
I the sentry
who falls asleep,
He the spirit who sheds
this breaking body.
this sweet life…

Joe continues to stare
at a ceiling he does not see
while his inner core
prepares for

Across the hall
irritated alarms split
the midnight silence
as some poor soul
gets up to

tell him
he can go – it is okay
to go.

Sitting in the visitor’s chair
at three
I fall

he touches me.

I awaken.

He is gone.

13 Responses to “The night Joe left”

  1. qazse Says:

    Today marks the second anniversary of my father-in-law’s death. This poem is a re-post from last year and recounts his departure.

  2. marlajayne Says:

    Beautiful. It reminds me of the afternoon when my sweet mother departed this life for the next. My aunt said simply, “She’s gone,” and she was. It was (still is) such a shock to realize what a fragile distance there is between being here and being gone.

  3. writesome Says:

    Wow, powerful. Well done, gripping.

  4. qazse Says:

    marlajayne – thank you. Yes the finality of a loved one’s exit from our senses is stupefying. I believe they are off to new beginnings as we keep their legacy alive in this place.

    writesome – thank you. I appreciate your regard for this poem. It kinda wrote itself.

  5. Jak Says:

    wow, brings back some memories of my days in the hospital. such a strange place with overflowing love everywhere and such caring people, right next to too much death and disease. captured that feeling for me well.

  6. chughes Says:

    This poem shows the power of spirit, the weakness of flesh. i thought of my dad.

    i like the idea of an inner core, and getting ‘up to wander’.

  7. qazse Says:

    Jak, did you work in one?

    chughes, yes, I think you are seeing an other dimension of the poem – one which I did not initially realize.

  8. fencer Says:

    Hi qazse,

    Just wanted to say, well done, and moving…


  9. qazse Says:

    thank you fencer


  10. Soulless Says:

    A touching memoir of a poem.

    “the spirit who sheds this breaking body”

    That line lingers. *sniff*

  11. qazse Says:

    Thank you Soulless. Your sentiment is likewise touching.

  12. slynne Says:

    This is so beautiful and it captures the essence of the vigil perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing it. I am sure to think of it in all future vigils I attend… and find comfort in it.

  13. qazse Says:

    thank you slynne

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