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Body Language

Alan Harris

after my father had his stroke
we never spoke again
but that didn’t stop us
from reading each other’s faces

recognizing the punctuated pauses
periods and question marks
etched in eyes, sighs and sad smiles

It took both hands to hold one of his
that first day in the hospital
as my eyes whispered how much I cared
and his smile replied, Thank you

but before I left his side that night
our sighs acknowledged
the painful truth
that despite how well
we finally understood each other
it was regrettably apparent
how little time we had left to talk

About the poet:

Alan Harris is a sixty-one-year-old hospice volunteer who helps patients write short stories, letters and poetry. “I’m what’s called a ‘Tuesday story’ writer, as in Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I’m called in when a hospice patient would like help writing a short memoir, letter or poem. It’s a fantastic experience to be the last person to listen to an important story straight from the source. And then I get to help mold it into a cherished, hard-copy family legacy.” Harris is working on his MSW degree at Wayne State University, Detroit.

About the poem:

“This poem is a cathartic recreation of the day I was summoned to the hospital to be with my father, right after a major stroke had stolen from him the ability to talk. Without words, we still engaged in the most important conversation we would ever have with each other.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer