from "The Stone at the Bottom" by Manuel Ulacia

As my father’s breathing fails,
the transparency of the windowpane
reminds me that outside there is the world.
I contemplate the brightly lit city,
the cars going by,
the teenager who meets
his girlfriend on a corner,
the passing bicyclist,
the athlete running across the park meadow.
Pondering the fragility of time
I contemplate the world,
the window again,
the reunited family,
and I am thinking that my father no longer speaks
or sees or hears,
that his dead senses
are beginning to perceive the theater of the world
through us,
that the only memory of his life
is what lies in the fragments of our memory:
an immense puzzle with missing pieces.
what must he be thinking about as he leaves himself behind?
My mother’s skin?
Newsreels from the Second World War?
First communion and the commandments?
The tumors spreading through his body?
My father, stammering,
says he has a stone in his throat,
it won’t fall,
he’s going to fall with it,
To where? In what place?

Translated by Reginald Gibbons