The Unbidden by Elizabeth P. Buttimer

The Unbidden

by Elizabeth P. Buttimer

Papa tells me he sees them—
standing around his bed
they lean in to smooth
his blanket and soothe him.
Sometimes, they sing
in low tones, songs
from the old green Broadman.
— Notes that came
from Sacred Harp—
migrated to wider use.
He remembers his mother
who sang, played piano
and organ. His father fell in
love with her touch— on ivory
and black keys— in a church
where funeral home fans
were their air conditioning.

These watchers put cool rags
on his brow or hold his hand.
They stroke his hair, fluff his pillow.
There is little— for me to do—
as I whirl in, try to pull him
back from the crag—
try to keep him with me—
longer.—If only— willing it
for him— strongly— could be
enough—I talk to the doctor
and we dig for answers—
new ways to win against
a failing heart—to squeeze
more life into him—more
breath.— He tells me he sees
them around his bed,
working on him.—but
I fear they’ve come
to take him home.


Elizabeth Buttimer, an entrepreneur, a manufacturer, and former educator, received her Ph.D. from Georgia State University and her M.S.C and B.A. from Auburn University.

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