This is a free-verse poem from high school. It relates to today’s theme of “Frail”.

Dad’s Metal Stick

I survey the vacant room,
no longer inhaling the rainforest fragrance of flannel.
Instead, the odor like a pumpkin rotting after Autumn passes.

A box with wood splitting.
A box now on the verge of caving in
releases an image of a brown-haired man
about the height of a Toyota Corola
holding an infant curled up in the shape of a ball
staring up at him, one eye floating to the left
the other right.

The rim of the box unravels from age
like the image of the father and the infant in my mind.
A picture embroidered with white fluff compiling
like frost on a window in winter.

A smile gleaming like a mirror reflecting it
The smile extending a wrinkle the width of the face.
He pats his son on the back
like a football player congratulating a teammate
for scoring a touchdown.
He hugs his daughter
like a child greeting a friend he visits an hour away
and the cross before an altar in a church the size of a football field
glimmers from the sun a little less in the picture
than it did in real life.
The wood peels more in the picture
than it did in real life.

The picture rests upon
a metal stick half the height of a poteum,
its diameter that of a hand wrapped around it.
One that Dad used to transport himself with;
One that showed the leech-like grasp it took to carry himself
when the use of one leg after the other
requires support to accomplish the task.

The palm of my hand traces the surface,
the perimeter stinging through me
like brain freeze from devouring ice cream.
I remember the way the rubber base moved in front
and Dad alternated one leg,
then the other.
The same pattern from day to day.

Pulling the metal out of the box,
I drop it on a faded sheet the shade of a frog,
the sheet crumbled upon his bed,
The device’s partner missing.

I scan the surface to receive a last glimpse
of the father who maneuvered one step
then another
to guide me the right way through this journey.
The father who encouraged me to keep driving;
The father who encouraged me to study for a test I thought I would fail.

Realizing the base is missing, too,
I find the rubber concealed by a collage in the box;
Rubber that used to be firm and strong,
now torn like tire from a bike when it skids.
And the metal that used to reveal a shine,
now lost its glass-like surface
And the scratch engraved in it will not subside.

Part of me is torn like the rubber.
And part of me is missing like the other stick.