Ground Hog Day
You are sitting twelve feet nine inches
from the kitchen table.
There is enough fried chicken for everyone
but you are no James Joyce
Amused murmurs from the back of the living room.
Although you elaborate, the gas bill remains.
Leave it unattended at your peril—it is, after all,
Ground Hog Day.
He is sitting in a chair beside the hospital bed eating canned peaches.
In Morristown, where an earlier Revolutionary War was fought.
You recognize this for the miracle that it is.
(The line about fried chicken rings false. You’re family came from Italy.
Strike and call it macaroni.)
His heart—and therefore everything—was in jeopardy.
That day time melts like a Dali. The wait maddening. And a fierce wind
you breathe in jagged rasps like a hooked fish.
If you put your fingers into your side, do you pull out time?
Ask the doctor.
Shutting the door, he turns to sit. The three of you,
all women, have been waiting. The doctor answers.
You can’t help but smirk at his clogs, but your mother reaches out
to touch his hand, to ask if he’s tired
(he obviously is), but
he clearly doesn’t want her to touch him.
He’s had his bloody hands in her husband’s chest all afternoon.
She doesn’t notice him pull
It doesn’t matter.
You are nearly the last one back in the waiting room.
Two sisters call two sisters and two husbands,
who call relieved others. Your mother phones
her cousin, the accountant (a close family friend),
a few neighbors, her voice trembling—
It’s grown terribly late, but who cares?
He will ask for more peaches.
Three days afterward and nearly to the minute
I stretch my legs under my desk, lean back
and relax something that sets the thrashing fish free.
I watch it leap into the wintry water
and swim away.
Felicia Sanzari Chernesky