Getting Dad Dressed for the Doctor
But it wasn’t his passing
me the storied brain, nitrile gloves powder blue protecting
sterile convolutions 
when finally I was left to examine it myself, 
in the cadaver lab’s furthest corner. It wasn’t the brain
itself, either—it wasn’t 
the spinal cord on a metal slab; 
not the Adam’s Apple, not the false
vocal cords, not the genitals
under a wrinkled sheet, not the teeth beneath
no-longer-pink lips—not 
even the pancreas (not at all
like a pear rotting in a dish). I’d planned
a good son’s stoic
grief for it, that austere
little duodenum, 
which the med student showed me when
I raised my hand for help, 
drawing back
the intestinal tract (how do you know 
a word like that?) so I 
could forgive it
its spoiled coil. No. Instead,
I cried at the common white cotton tube sock.
It keeps the exposed arms from drying out overnight.
He couldn’t bend too well. I’d had to help him
on low-insulin afternoons if 
my sisters left me alone. The student
sprayed, fingertip to forearm, watered-down
fabric softener from a Windex bottle. 
He asked me if I’d like
to put it on. I’d hear his puny voice
call my name through the ceiling and pretend
I couldn’t hear. When he’d start coughing,
I’d trudge upstairs. 
His was a Hanes. He said they
get them from Goodwill.
It had a patched sole. I’d make sure
the seams lined up right,
that the toes weren’t too tight, and I’d
inflict such a daughterly (I was
ashamed) silence
I’m sure he felt me cringe at how
his toenails, which I refused
to clip, clung to
the fabric. I dragged 
the bunched sock up the brittle wrist.
He’d thank me; I smoothed it down.
Then, I’d help him put his shoes on.    
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