little crutches

March 25, 2018 Kaitlin Jock 0 Comments

in february they told dad he couldn’t
smoke cigarettes anymore unless he
wanted to have another stroke.
sounds like a plan, he laughed
to the doctor who he told me was a bitch,
and they gave him a patch that covered
the face of the fighting Irishman
he regrets ever inking to his bicep.
it seemed like it worked for a while,
when he moved a lot more slowly
and his left side seemed to drag behind
the rest of his body as he moved
in a sort of halfway slow motion.
his car smelled less and less like smoke,
and there were no packs of parliaments
falling from pockets of jackets and jeans
or sitting on top of the water heater
before they ruined a load of clean clothes.
there were no forgotten empty lighters
hiding in between the cushions of the couch.
I stopped worrying about the cloud
of grey smoke I used to walk through outside
after dinner when I searched for fresh air.
part of me was aware that it would all
eventually go to complete and utter shit
because the patch was supposed to take
the edge off when he needed it,
but it didn’t do anything like that,
and he snapped and screamed because dad
never quits anything, and cold turkey
is the most painful way in the world to quit.
it seemed to start over in moderation;
the garage smelled like smoke, a small red
lighter fell from the pocket of a winter coat,
there were moments of held eye contact, the kind
that whispered you can’t tell your mother.
she stopped asking the same question
over and over, when or if he changed his patch.
he’s forgetful like he’s always been,
and he leaves a pack of parliaments in
the cup holder of mom’s car, lighter in tow.
she swears under her breath like I can’t
read it all on her face, and she throws
the cardboard box down to the blacktop
of the driveway and runs them over.