On the Morning of My Father’s Seventh Surgery
Sara Tracey

Today, my father will try to die.
He has instructed the surgeon
to let the scalpel slip, to lacerate
a nerve, to pierce his spinal cord.
The doctor laughs, thinks
my father is trying to be funny,
but I know he means every word.

He’s tried before: the day they took
his kidney. Replaced his knee.
Each scar a suicide: between shoulder
blades, along ankle, hip, and tailbone.
He makes sure his chart says DNR,
and if he was a praying man,
he would pray to never wake up.
But he doesn’t, and no God
will bring him comfort.

This life, quiet with faithlessness,
won’t end as long as my mother believes
enough for both, prays enough for both.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
she whispers while he sleeps, presses
her small hand against his back
as if to heal, a conduit
for her God to pass through.

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