12 miles on a cracked rope road
from the trailer town
to mineral wells

12 miles between an 8-year old
and her halloween costume
so she might become cinderella,
a ballerina or casper the friendly ghost

he stiffly started the car up to make the 12 mile trip
clenching the steering wheel
with the grip of a victim
on a sinking life preserver

grim reaper seated between us
halloween candy anticipation for me
halloween hell, coming early for him

12 miles on a cracked rope road 

dry breath wind, pinching his chest
anvil paralyzing my daddy’s heart
nothing for miles but the arcing ribbon of the road
on that palo painted crust-scape,

save for the one gas station
where our car slammed stop and he fell out
jack-in-the-box-fast, rolled on the grainy ground
daddy, a shrunken jack-o-lantern

12 miles on a cracked rope road

halloween hell beginning in earnest now
helpless 8-year old
waiting for adults to come to the rescue
as his cardiac failure proceeded
reaper at my side

12 miles of cracked rope
choking my life
cinderella dream and trick-or-treat candy
dead and buried

everything White…
the crusted plateaus, the gas station and the White car I see racing to our rescue on the tight-rope road
Mr. White with a shock of White hair and the grip of Mr. Clean
sweeps my crumpled father into the backseat
me in the front, taking over
as grown-up as i can be, answering a stream of questions:
yes, this is my daddy, no, my mother died, no, there is no one to call, yes, we live in palo pinto, i don’t know, i don’t know

12 miles achieved, at the end of that cracked rope
the last image i see are the electrodes on his leaping body 
then the door closes

and i’m ushered to the nurse’s station
to doodle on a pad, swing my legs
and wait alone
for someone
anyone
to throw me a rope

Advertisements