A poem by Michael R. Hardesty
The First Time
The abyss of addiction had stripped us
of the normal paternal relationship.
But I had no enmity. I knew you wouldn’t
intentionally have written such a script.
Now at your bedside I stand,
a syringe in my hand to offer relief
from the ravage of pain. We both know
that when you accept,
we’ll never encounter again.
I can see in your eyes
that your time is nigh
and opportunities are fading.
Your anguish is pervading,
so I mustn’t delay. If only I could say,
or somehow you’d display something
of our unexpressed affection.
I pray my abjection isn’t obvious to you.
The moments are too few
for me to let you down now.
How I wish we could begin again—
I as a toddler, you as young father.
But why bother to dream at a time like this?
As the morphine surges through your veins
and suppresses our pain you pull me down,
clutching my head to your chest.
I’ll always remember the uninhibited embrace
just before you slipped into that good night.
Daddy, I want you to know, on your very first try,
you got the hug exactly right.
—michael r hardesty
About the Author – Michael R. Hardesty
A graduate of the University of Louisville and Stanford University’s Certificate of Writing Program in long fiction. Hardesty is retired from his marketing communications firm, Black & White, and lives in Louisville, KY where his favorite activity is hobnobbing with his three grandchildren.