Traveling with my Demented Father

After the flight from Ohio Which should form memories Of a sky of cloudless light The two of us are swerving The rental along the Taconic Parkway To his younger sister's surprise 80th And we are hours Ahead of schedule Picking our way Through a serrated fog That blunders its milky bracelet Down the mountainsides of Vermont Hiding whole wooded horizons So we stop dad and I In the rest area parking lot Feeling like nothing doing Two aimless jesters With stalled progress meters Who follow a path Into an emerald wood To see the Taconic pond Dad is good to go In fact sure he’s been here before And shuffles and huffs from the effort Pauses frequently Eyeing the forest tenderly And grimacing at the sloped ground As though it is a board game And the challenge is To pick safe squares For footholds And avoid pitfalls That make you replay the game As he does at waypoints Leaning on me for rest Blanking on the destiny Of the pond Repeatedly unifying the reality Of the granite-floored forest With what he remembers Of our birthday trip and As if with new words Ask again and again Will we make the party? Near the pond A grader has spread A spotless layer of grey stone Upon the path Soon engraved With our footprints alone Edging to the water I take his arm To steady his tipping By which the fluid light of life Has for some time Been dripping out of him In the lost wisdom method of aging Leaving behind A mime in a blazer Hiking to a pond Who looks with eyes So dependent They have become mine Deeply unaware Of the clandestine thief Rifling brazenly within Daily becoming more host Of the dark cage Falling into black water All rushing upon him
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