1. Flannery, Maureen Tolman RN

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The oldest of seven, born steady despite


dreams dormant behind his eyes, he was


an iron-fast anchor that kept the family from drifting.


Now his fingers worry the air as if some message written there


might be grabbed before it floats away on particles of dust.


The hand hanging flaps and flails like a brookie in a creel.


His pedal foot wafts like a loose wheel about to spin off


and go rolling downhill. If illness is metaphor,


what is the meaning behind my father's shimmy


as if some limb or appendage wanted to dance


while the rest of him decided to sit this one out?


A jumping bean soul squashed in the pocket of a stable life.


Perhaps forty years of a questionable marriage gave him this tremulous


way of being, as if some old indecision in the cells of his muscles


has them quivering all these years after the fact of that rash proposal.


That time of steadfast standing required such force of will


that wavering worked itself down into sinew of his unbent frame.


While he stood at attention, an independent foot inside the shoe


learned to tap of its own accord. This agitation will wash him


clean as a creek-scrubbed garment hung to bleach in the sun,


though he may quake the earth when it opens to take him back.