by Donald Hall
Last night at suppertime I outlived my father, enduring
the year, month, day, hour, and moment
when he lay back on a hospital bed in the guest room
among cylinders of oxygen — mouth open, nostrils and pale
blue lips fixed unquivering. Father of my name,
father of long fingers, I remember your dark hair
and your face almost unwrinkled. Now I have waked
more mornings to frost whitening the grass,
read the newspaper more times, and stood more times,
my hand on a doorknob without opening the door.
The relativity of age and how it shifts based on perspective has always interested me. It bends, it stays the same. Your parents always seem older than you—it’s hard to imagine them as kids. When you’re in grade school the high schoolers seem massive but when you’re in college they’re practically infants. When I look at yearbook photos the kids that were a few years older than me then still somehow look older than I am now. Hall's imagery is so lucid that I’m simultaneously gripped by his account of outliving his father and thrown back into my own thoughts as well.