The Door

She never said I’m going to die. I was with her nearly
every minute that week, reading, sleeping on the cot beside
 
the high-tech bed that kept shifting her slight weight
while the window shadowed over, then grew brighter,
 
and she drifted or got changed or was given another
shot. None of us said it, though finally when
 
she was barely talking anymore, I asked something like Mom,
are you ready?—I just want Brad to be ok was what
 
she replied. I told her he would be, as if her wish
or mine could preside at his sentencing hearing.
 
After that she was almost entirely silent, but when Dad
came the last afternoon, edgy without a cigarette,
 
checking over the monitors, Mom said she wanted to see him
for a while alone, and he was startled. Pull the door
 
closed, I heard her tell him, and he did. Out in the hall,
staring at the pattern of alternating tiles, I thought of Saturday
 
mornings when Brad and I were little, and Dad and Mom’s
room would be not just shut for a time, but locked. Secretly
 
I tried the knob once. In that house nobody was allowed
to lock a door but Dad. Grandma would shoo us to the TV
 
with cinnamon toast to watch cartoons, one fool panic after
the next—bolted dungeons, lies and threats, a saw-blade
 
inching toward the tied-up body. Then real people like us,
finally: Roy Rogers saving them with his amazing calm.

Debra Nystrom, "The Door" from Night Sky Frequencies. Copyright © 2016 by Debra Nystrom. Reprinted by permission of The Sheep Meadow Press.
Source: Night Sky Frequencies (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2016)
More Poems by Debra Nystrom