My father at ninety-two, splitting the days


It’s five minutes to twelve and the sun
glares in our faces — quite a phenomenon,
he says, to see the windows full of light
and everyone going about — at midnight!
The clock plays second fiddle to his brain.
An hour’s nap and he begins the day again,
washes, changes his shirt, and expects
his breakfast on the table. He respects
my worn explaining as a kind of busy
work, shrugs with courtesy. He is dizzy
with the earth’s rotation spinning away
twenty-four to the dozen, each brief new day
a clone to the last. Like a match burning
meridians, he strikes his shadow’s turn.


Charlotte Mandel has published nine books of poetry, including her poem-novella, “The Marriages of Jacob,” which she calls “a feminist midrash.” Visit her work at charlottemandel.com. This poem originally appeared in “Keeping Him Alive,” Silver Apples Press (1990).

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