When not noting the time
to cook the ham for our gathering,
Mom silently tallies the overlooked
and necessary deaths
that count down to Dad's rebirth.
In ten days, the hospital cost him
both pounds and years, which he's tried
to gain back since coming home.
My father rests in his chair, a future vision
of the cantankerous ninety-year old
I know will still challenge me to arm-wrestling
and win on honor alone.
Mom angles her ears for his coarse call for water,
calls my sister's house for updates
on her pneumonia, actually laughs
when I tastelessly announce intestinal herpes
to round off family diagnoses.
Gallows humor prevails, for now.
At night, I picture the savior returned
with no backlit cave for ambiance,
just a Mary Magdalene screaming
before a limping messiah
who bends over bleeding palms,
asking her Could you look at these?
The light is killing my eyes.
I wonder if they'd have left the nails in.
My mother, I need to say,
would never see these things,
still frequents the late afternoon
and early morning masses with Dad
when they can, continues when he can't.
Still, I’m sure that to her, the quick and clean
Resurrection looks rewritten, embellished.