I’m helping Dad break into his own house. The doors are unlocked. He can’t use them. They could fall off their hinges and he wouldn’t pass through them, for what they represent. You’re wrong to think it’s metaphor, he tells me, and I’m not demented. I know they’re doors. Don’t poet me. It’s good to be reminded. I was reaching for football analogies, of all things, as a tribute to his athletic past. Tackled by memories at every threshold he would have been, in my bad verse. I know. And Mom would have been, what? A linebacker sprawled across the welcome mat where she went down and didn’t bounce up? It’s hack work. His pain is real, not a simile for sports injury. We run an end-around to avoid the porch that sacked his wife and don’t even consider using the driveway door where his best man and brother was tackled in his turn and dropped for a loss. I tell it to him this way and he laughs without mirth and punches me in the arm. We might get through this. Then again. Here’s fallen Buster at the back door off the deck, gray and noble, sprawled in a posture of awkward sleep, but done. He’s my wife’s Dad, actually. I tower over him. He hasn’t a hint of a bald spot. I touch his shoulder, speak his name. He lets it happen, hates living, hates life. He’s offered us this house because we’re young and walk thoughtlessly through any door and he can’t find a way inside. For years and until yesterday he played master’s bridge (better when partnered with Mom) and buried his favorite opponents annually until they stopped coming and his only foes were their empty chair backs arranged like so many gravestones. No. Don’t.

Copyright © January 10, 2007 David Hodges

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