Things in a Cup, Things on a Spoon — Sara Backer

This time, it’s my father in the hospital
choosing to believe he’s in a hotel
waiting for a better room.

He knows he’s waiting, and he knows
he doesn’t have his key. The rest is jazz.                                                                  

He used to sing Cole Porter. Half-deaf, he mumbles
his favorite in the still of the night. I sing for him  
like the moon growing dim on the rim of a hill.                    

Perhaps at 88 he has become his kindest self.                       
On the phone, he asks about weather and my cat.     

I spill my lifelong secret. I love you.
He replies. Thank you for calling.                             

While he has surgery, I head for my university.
Find myself at the dump.
Turn left on red lights.

Metastasized. Shunt. Cardiac. Comfortable.             
His room phone rings and rings.                   

Next day—relief to hear his voice. He tells me
what he has for lunch. Things in a cup, things
on a spoon, and things you don’t like and ignore.