Your Father’s Breath
You hear your father’s breath,
a wheeze, a rattle deep in your lungs,
a sound you can feel,
the sound you remember,
the results of five decades
his constant companion
in old age, Father Death’s voice
reminding him with every breath
of his mortality.
Yours is different,
an ancient asthma,
a childhood enemy,
never quite grown up like the rest of you,
a chemical reaction of cold and exertion,
like the pile of ice and snow newly removed
as you stand now, your remaining breath a cloud.
Not fatal. Not this. Easily remedied
with a few moments of rest
and a cup of tea, but still,
you hear your father’s breath.
About this poem
My dad died a few years ago. He died of COPD, the result of fifty years of smoking. The doctors declared for a decade that he was on the edge of death as he lived on, one ragged breath at a time. Often we have wondered how long might he have lived, and how much more vibrantly might he have lived without the cigarettes.
I have asthma, triggered only when I exert myself in the cold weather. It falls under the category of a nuisance more than a threat.
We woke to snow and ice this morning.
From those, this poem
PS, the picture was taken from my front porch.