Sons When I care for an elderly man in the hospital and the son comes to pick up his father I see how the father’s relationship with suffering and laughter and hope amidst pain has transmitted to the younger. Has he preached to the son and did the son decide to digest the sermon or choose other gods? 85% of the time the mythology remains unbroken: if the father pulls on the lines keeping him alive with disgust and frustration, the son will rail on about the traffic and the parking. If the father jokes about how the surgery for his bladder didn’t make his manhood grow, as was promised, the son will confess that the surgery did not make his father mute, as was promised. But there are those sons who either have chewed on their own dark tobacco until it has blistered their fingers or have drank from the shine of decent friends until they are buoyant. So I remember, most times, how to interact with my God in front of my daughter, and now my son. I don’t ever want to see them curse all the gifts in their hands.
when i was a nurse on the medical floor i loved to joke with many of my patients but one in particular would always have the raunchiest gems ready for me when i arrived in his room— the one about the nun and the camel or the walrus and the seal and his wife had dirtier ones than him as she chuckled in the corner something happened i cannot remember (or tell) but he stopped being able to talk or move for about a week and i had to crush his meds and squirt them down a feeding tube taped in his nostril as he searched me for signs of humor or news or a crack in the ice which had taken him and i could not summon any light and averted my eyes pushing buttons on iv pumps he went to icu and miraculously came back in a few days still unable to talk but able to eat and sit upright his wife grinning with a seahawks blanket in the lounge-chair and when he saw me his eyes begged for me to act normal even if he couldn’t so i half yelled Oh it’s you! and flipped him off and he laughed and snorted and mustered enough strength to raise his finger and lift it straight up at me until i didn’t know if i was laughing or crying his wife just clapped her hands and squealed and every time i walked in he would dig one finger out of his sheets for me until one day he actually whispered Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! and i couldn’t speak but just smiled open-skulled and wet his wife looked like she had been baptized her mascara dripping down like holy blood and god shook my arms and i replied Well, fuck you too!
Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. In former lives he taught high school, managed aquatic centers, and practiced acupuncture. He has four books of poetry: The only thing that makes sense is to grow (Moon Tide, 2019), Mr. Rogers kills fruit flies (Main St. Rag, 2020), These Hands of Myrrh (Kelsay Books, 2021), and Sea of Marrow (Ethel Press, 2021). He has two books upcoming in 2022: fishmirror from Alien Buddha Press and Skinless in the Cereal Aisle from Impspired.