My father had good days and bad but stayed
upbeat until the end,
confident his doctors would save him.
He survived cancer twice, in his 40s and 60s,
and a motorcycle accident at 72, which left him partly paralyzed.
But he learned to walk again— another near miracle—
and at age 76, diagnosed with emphysema, finally
quit cigarettes: It was easy, my father bragged, I could have quit years ago.

And for years he hid his dementia, clever man,
until opening his car door in speeding traffic. Once, near the end,
I visited my parents in their RV park
in Florida. My father, a retired electrician,
earned extra money working odd jobs for neighbors.
He showed me a new swimming pool
with arcing neon lamps and submersible lights,
pointing to the very last fixture he installed before hand, eye,
and memory finally gave out.

I imagine, decades later, the swimming pool still unfinished,
the half-lights aglow in memoriam.
I rarely visit Florida anymore, or the small Jewish cemetery
where my parents lie, grass and scrub land
wedged between an industrial park
and busy interstate highway.

Joseph Lerner’s poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in 100 Word Story, Alternate Route, BlazeVOX, Fictive Dream, Gargoyle, Revolver, and elsewhere. He lives in Frostburg, MD.