Gloria Parker


It’s March again…1968 
and Dad is drifting in 
and out of his last day.

Only a thumb and forefinger
are at work, rolling a phantom
pill around on the blanket.

When the lunch tray arrives,
Mom scoops a blob of red jello 
onto the spoon.

Languid and mute, as in a dream, 
I can only watch as she lifts it 
to his mouth.

When the cold touches his lips,
he wakes long enough to vent  
a final outrage: Jesus Christ, Matilda!

She’ll remember none of this,
but I won’t be so lucky: 
certain old moments lie in wait.

That red blob will remake 
its brief but appalling journey
to the end.


Fish Out of Water

On his own in a five-gallon tank,
last in the row of bustling aquariums,               
the giant goldfish does his dance…

opening and closing his gills, waving
his pectoral fins in rhythmic slow motion. 

That’s the extent of his routine, as his nose 
and tail fin nearly kiss the limits of his world.

He’s a big attraction at Woolworth’s. 
Kids tap on the glass to get him moving,
but there’s always a kid who never would…

the one who has to look away from an eye 
unable to blink, a life treading water
on the way to nowhere.

© Gloria Parker

Gloria Parker is a retired primary school teacher. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Slipstream, Loch Raven Review, Rattle, Nimrod, Edison Literary Review, The Healing Muse, Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.

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