Dad’s Last Shave

The reek of alcohol,
burnt cigarettes

pervade air encircling
his hospital bed.

Lifting his clammy head,
upturn damp-stained pillow.

Gray-black stubble covers his face,
disguising rutted, swollen results
of lifetime of craving.

Drawing shuddering breath
I ask,

“Would you like me to shave you?”

Dad nods consent.

Retrieve shaving kit from bed stand,
dampen face with moist cloth,
whip lather with brush, soap in cup,
apply to face,

under his wary eyes.

Each razor stroke
tracking against bristles
peels away layer
of heartbreak between us.

Soft towel tenderly
removes residual lather.

Dad’s face turns toward me,
our eyes converge,

pause,

then dart away.

A tear descends his cheek.

Our moist eyes
reflect a moment of vulnerability.

“Dad, will you be glad you bare
a supple countenance
when embraced by Jesus?”

We kiss goodbye.

Dad dies next morning.

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After closing his practice of 35 years in 2011 as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and with the publication of his first collection of poems, “A Heart on Fire, Poems from the Flames,” in 2014, David C. Weiss has been devoted to writing poetry and leading workshops for new poets. He is on the faculty of OLLI College at the University of Southern Maine and a visiting instructor of poetry at Sera Jhy Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in South India. David plays the “shakuhachi,” a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute used by monks of the “Fuke” school of Zen Buddhism in the practice of “suizen” (blowing meditation). He earned his Master of Theology and Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology degrees from Boston University. You can follow David on his website.

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