“Everything Is Ready; I Will Call Dad”

by Mildred Barthel

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    Usually he is called in from somewhere,

    but tonight

    I pause by his sleeping face,

    pondering the strong features

    gently disassembled in their fatigue.

    His work

    goes beyond cool morning fragrances

    into hum of heat and rinses of cold,

    and I know that in the black of last night

    he was up healing those who would call wrong right.

    Even in sleep this giant earthly father

    breathes strength and strict devotion.

    I choke with emotion and hoarsely spill forth my message.

    He stirs.

    Reality places itself between his eyes, and

    duty moves his body. Our reaching hands

    clasp tight in love. He laughs as young as I am.

    We lead each other to the kneeling family circle.

    Whatever despair he knows

    is caged in discipline. After

    a comfortable relationship with silence,

    he begins the prayer.