The crackle of the frying pan and the low hum of the oven
were slowly radiating through the December afternoon,
filling every corner of my father’s old apartment
with a faint pulse. Dad was motionless
in his chair, reclined in a trapezoid of dusty sunlight. I had
a small radio playing on the counter, old swing tunes that
jumped like the
grease in the pan.
The TV squatted on a spindly table against
the far wall—it had given us enough baseball to last a lifetime.
Enough broken bats, stolen bases, ground-rule doubles.
I walked down the hall to the bathroom, catching a glimpse
of an old man’s open closet where his old uniform hung. Its
whites and blues, clean as a memory, embraced my mother’s
favorite dress in a photograph on the nightstand.
They danced right out of the frame, my parents.
Danced back into their prime, in time with the swing
of the kitchen radio’s syncopated jazz—they almost danced
the life back into the air, but it was December and it was a dusty old place,
and the nicotine breath of the bar on the first floor rose up
through the carpet and whispered our ages back to us
so we wouldn’t forget just how old we’d become.
I went back to the kitchen where the oil
in the pan was punctuating the white-hot brass of the radio.
The room was lifelessly peaceful; Dad didn’t make a sound in his chair.
I ate in silence on the couch, watching the dead television’s
gray screen, humming along to the radio. Dad lay
in his chair, parallel to the floor as his dinner got cold on his lap.
I exhaled slowly
and stared at the ceiling for a while,
then called nine one one.