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Poetry

Okra

Poetry by Ethan Leonard

Okra

Ethan Leonard

Father and child, New Roads.

I don’t know what day it is. I can’t feel anything.

I miss my house. I miss my grandchildren. My son makes him shake my limp hand when he greets me. I can see he hates it. I can see how he wishes he was not here. Me too. Mouth is dry.

I want to hug them. I want to kiss my wife. I want to tell her I love her. I wish I could apologize to her. I wish I didn’t drink for most of my life. I wish I would have held her hand when we lost our baby. I wish I would have been a better father. I wish I had just one more chance. Blink once for yes, twice for no.

I think I can see her coming. There she is. That is her! Sweet eyes. Sweet eyes. Sweet eyes. I can’t stop blinking! She told me she’s three years old today. I can’t believe I’ve been in this bed for three years. Leg itches.

This is my life now. They leave. Back on Sunday.

I can hear the sadness in their voice. I can hear the siren from my window. I can hear the footsteps running. I can hear the nurses yelling. I can hear the machines beeping. I can hear my daddy talking. I can hear my mama laughing. I can hear the angels singing. I can hear our baby calling.

Mais! C’est la fin.

The author’s grandfather bringing in the Pointe Coupee sugarcane harvest, 1967.

Ethan Leonard is a native of New Roads, Louisiana. This poem was inspired by his childhood experiences at the bedside of his grandfather, who was ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). He hopes that this piece shows how horrible the disease is while also returning his grandfather’s voice to him.