David Oestreich


Of all the things that I might do
as you lay, for now at least,
not dying, I choose probably the
most unhelpful—sitting on the sofa's
pale blue Naugahyde, counting,
losing count, beginning to count
again the barely perceptible risings
of the crisp white sheet draped
over you, appreciating, finally,
the story you loved to tell about
the night your father could not go
to sleep after the sump pump failed
and he replaced it with one that
you, his youngest, woke the owner
of the hardware store at 3:00 am
to buy while your older brothers
bailed like hell, carrying bilge in
ice cream pails and stock pots to keep
the basement dry, and once he was done
he stayed down there perched on
the seat-edge of a metal folding chair,
watching the pump float rise to trip
the switch, hearing the impeller
whir to life again and again, and
even when the first dawn light
trickled through the cellar panes
he would not climb the stairs and
into bed next to your mother, but
kept on sitting there past breakfast,
lunch, and well into late afternoon.

David Oestreich is the author of the chapbook, Cosmophagy (Folded Word, 2016). His work has appeared in Chagrin River Review, Ruminate, Tar River Poetry, and Slippery Elm. He lives in Ohio with his wife and three children.

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