As she watches her father’s

chest settle for good

my young mother 

can only be present

and christen me with his name.

Stumbling to the barn’s ancient calm

she sits on a bale of straw

in the dappled space

head bowed, palms up.

A surrender.

She blinks as on her finger 

alights, briefly,

a chickadee,

and a peace,

and a question she’ll never answer.

A mere fifty years pass.

The chair in which I linger,

Battered, heavy,

is rickety.

A wheel squeaks 

and wobbles like my right hand.

Daughter, come sit. 

Talk. Be present.

And when I rise,

I’ll perch 


on your steady finger.

Used by permission of the author.

Chuck Vandenberg

Chuck lives with his family of five in Victor, New York. He was diagnosed in 2018 at age 50, when ...more