when the orderly comes to take the tray of sandwiches Dad can’t possibly eat
I am compelled by an impulse to eat the sandwiches and also to catalogue them
for a later poem that I know I will write / here is the poem 20 months later
led by the mock pulse of throaty lungfuls / hot air / I want to eat the sandwiches
because they are there and free and I have trained myself to fill up
on hors d’oeuvres in a crisis / a blanket over the vinyl chair says HEALTH
which seems ironic and funny and I want to take a picture of the blanket but I wait
until everyone is out of the room / I want to take a picture of Dad but I don’t
because I am ashamed / as a child I had to dig up my fish in their matchboxes
from under the petunias just to check / I always knew this would be a big poem
because of the way the room ballooned / my aunt nervous because Dad
didn’t want anyone to see him like this / not even me / Mum Janette Bec Aunt
me Dad / that’s not that many until the nurse folds in the trundle bed / what
my aunt means is why is my girlfriend there / imagine being in the first breath
of love and meeting her dad already unconscious / a few days later meeting her
entire blood / welcome to the family / I would rather Aunt stayed out / so performative
with an arm over mum wailing / I get a minute alone and I am like Dad let me tell you
about the giant stingrays overhead / can you see them? / we’re going round and
round the tunnel at the aquarium / all the moray eels popping their heads out
to say bye / I tried to sing ‘Dangerous’ by Roxette but I couldn’t / I needn’t
have worried about sandwiches because Janette has made a tonne / Janette is stalwart
and practical and when she makes you sandwiches you eat them / this is a love
I can understand / hi to Graeme & Janette from this poem / a couple of days before
I’d put Dad’s socks on his cold feet / if I am honest I didn’t visit hospital much
because my parents were always there taking turns / hospital was our summer house /
I thought Dad would light up when I told him I’d started boxing but he didn’t
so I was a sullen teen again / his only question was when are you going to learn
to drive so I thought I’d get my license while he was getting better and then ta da /
people started saying ask your Dad lots of questions about his life but he never asked
about mine / Dad loved to have a cheese-and-Branston Pickle sandwich at like 11pm
and then complain to Mum about buying carbs / I hold my breath when my aunt calls
down the hall where I am dozing with a sandwich / a doctor comes in to call time
and the nurse snips at him for not taking off the oxygen mask / it is 10.45pm so close
to sandwich hour / she calls Dad sweetie / okay sweetie / a surprise breath / it’s all
right / Aunt starts asking Dad’s spirit to fix the lotto in her favour / sweetie / soon
I will make many phone calls and discover all the ways people react to bad news /
I didn’t realise how quickly it happens the body changes like that / one second
it just wants me to drive and then it can’t eat the sandwiches


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Zenobia Frost

Zenobia Frost is a poet from Brisbane whose latest collection, After the Demolition (Cordite Books), explores pop culture, queer joy, place attachment and belonging. She recently received a Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award.

More by Zenobia Frost ›

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