Poems and Poetry

Salad Days with Bitter Dressing | A Poem by Roy Pullam

My eyes recorded things
My memory won’t let go
The pain in my father’s eyes
As he fought breathlessness
The hard wheeze
The perspiration
On a winter’s day
The creak of his tired bones
As he lifted
His body from the cane chair
The smell of liniment
He put on his broken back
Healed with too little attention
From the doctor
Who had put him
In the corset
No therapy
No follow-up visit
Left to suffer
The fate of the poor
The halting trudge
Across the yard
As he made his way
To the mailbox
Slow steps
With frequent stops
His chest heaving
As he tried to force
Air between the shiny black
Coal dust
In his lungs
Too old before his time
I do not have warm tales
Of throwing the ball
Taking camping trips
Other children recall
About their fathers
But how I loved him
Always aware
That one day
He would struggle in vain
And the breathe
Would not come


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