“Sonnet-ish: What Can I do, Dad?” “Nothing, son.”
He quit watching the news, quit his book club,
quit shaving. Let the subscriptions lapse.
Sleep became a hum, dreams dubbed
like foreign films, the phlegmy rasp
of his breathing a cause of concern
not broached by Mama or me.
He did trudge off to lecture
until the dean dismissed him.
Near the end he called out from his bed
Mama was out running errands. “Yes sir?”
I said, cracking open the door. “Sleep, I need to sleep.”
I was fifteen. “My dreams,” he said,
“all take place in this room, ghosts,
floating above the bed, gossipy whisperers.”