Ninety-six, my father floats
in a fearful dream, rises
outside his body,
but he’s stuck
in the living room, which appears
tilted at a surreal angle, ceiling fan
coming out of a wall. Float
somewhere nicer, my sister suggests.
Havana, Athens, Cairo, places he traveled
as a younger man, extra pages stapled
into his passport in accordion folds.
Or maybe visit that East Hampton bungalow
we used to rent before it became
such a fashionable address.
Help, help, he cries
arms flailing. Perched on a ledge
about to go over, he can’t find the floor,
though he’s upright, secure, and awake
in his chair. The usual laws
no longer apply. The structures
that house him, the very habits themselves,
relinquish their long service.
Coaxing, demanding, our voices
fade to distant traffic, our faces
vague moons. I’ve been out of my body,
he tells us at lunch, as we attend
to his labored breathing, keep trying
to fix his feet on the ground.