Before he’d even thought of his own death,
There were times in my twenties
when I began to cry just thinking about it.
We were in St. Mark’s Hospital
waiting for Dad to die.
I was dressed up, holding my wife’s hand,
staring at his mottled skin and
Dad was happy he was going to go;
He’d told me that a man could only do so many things,
and that he’d done what he’d wanted.
He’d told me that desires and ambitions were finite,
and that life was well made.
He’d told me that existence was like a road trip—
the beginning and middle were fun,
but towards the end,
you just wanted to get to the hotel
and kick off your shoes.
I rubbed his bony, liver-spotted hands.
He looked peaceful, but unkempt.
I wasn’t used to that.
He was always immaculate—
clean-shaven, trimmed nails, short hair.
I knew it was time,
He had his gold watch on, which
he’d worn since I was a kid.
I’d tried it on so many times,
studied the scratched face, the raised magnifying bubble,
and the flowing second hand.
He always laughed because it fit my wrist
like a hula-hoop.
One day, he’d said many times…
one day, this watch will be yours.
I could see him
timing me with his watch as I ran laps around the backyard,
staring at it and tapping on it when I
came home from dates a little too late;
I could see him
gazing at the numbers
with his eyebrows up high
to see if we had time for one more game of catch,
for one more game
With the end near,
I picked up Dad’s limp wrist,
undid the clasp, slid the timepiece from
his hand to mine,
savored the warmth
that oozed from the metal case, and
watched the second hand continue to
tick, swoop and
run to the right.
Mathieu Cailler is a writer and educator who is currently studying at Vermont College. Recently his work has been published in Epiphany, Sleet, Two Hawks Quarterly, Daily Love, and Scissors and Spackle.