The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Sue Lick



Dove squats fat in the crotch of the wintered walnut tree,
wrinkles in her neck mirroring the creases between my father’s
chin and his blue flannel shirt. Sun-warming in the patio,
my eyes keep closing as my father’s words pour out,
words I heard in January, March, July and November,
stories about World War II, the ranch, his electrician days,
and how the Iranian next door wants to fix the fence.

With my tennis shoe, I trace fissures in the concrete
poured 60 years ago, inches deep and full of rocks.
The leather on this easy chair is torn and taped,
crisscrossed stitches barely holding the stuffing in.
He’s talking about the dances now, the big bands,
Tony Pastorini playing when he married Mom.

Near the faucet wrapped in rags is where he fell.
Hip broken, he crawled on bloody elbows past the house
across the smooth cool floor of the garage and out front
to where he lay on the driveway waving his baseball cap.
I feel it on my skin, the disintegrating sidewalk
on which I once played baseball, Barbies and jacks.

Nearby, the freeway roars. A siren cuts through
the gray-brown air as gangsta music thumps
from a passing car. Here inside these mismatched
fences leaning on temporary posts, nothing moves
but birds and squirrels and the flow of words
as I sit here trying to collect them all.

Squirrel feet clatter across the corrugated patio roof.
Nuts bang and roll. Near deaf, my father doesn’t hear.
I keep nodding and making sounds as if he did.
Leaning on his cane, he sits, eyes red-veined and wet,
trying to tell me everything. The flow of words
is running out as everything cracks and settles into dust.
When I look again, the dove is gone.




SUE FAGALDE LICK is a writer, musician and dog mom living on the Oregon coast. She strayed into the newspaper business for about 30 years, but she'd rather write poems and essays. Her work has appeared recently in New Letters, Tenemos, Apple Valley Review, and other publications. Her books include Stories Grandma Never Told and Childless by Marriage.



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