Knowledge: A Poem For Father’s Day

Father’s Day is this Sunday, and I am left with the memory of all the cards I sent late, or the phone calls made when I forgot a card entirely. I am left with the knowledge that I never knew which holiday would be the last.

A man holding an infant (the author)“Knowledge”

Did you know that a heart attack can occur over hours?
Did you know that your chest can explode in slow motion
and no one
not yourself
nor your daughter sitting next to you
will ever feel the air change?

Doctors tell me
this illness I have
sprang from a virus that made itself comfortable
and I wonder,
how long must I carry my grief?

And did you know that so many losses
begin by resembling the flu?
“I just can’t kick this cold,” you said.
“I’ve spent days in bed,” you said.
Did you know that you
are able to die on Christmas Eve?

The fog in my brain will not relent,
though sometimes I pretend it isn’t there.
Exhausted, dizzy, stomach an acid waste,
I take to my pillow.
You never saw it coming.

“Go to work tonight,” I said
while you calmly died.
“Then you will have time to rest.”
Did you know that no one
not you
nor me
nor The Doctor himself
can ever say for certain what time
will mean?

They tell me
this illness I have
with its stupid name
and stupid crowd-sourced assumptions
has no cure.
Swollen with ache, I continue to carry.

My brother,
he brought the infected cells of a hundred boot camp Marines
to the funeral.
Pink eyes, strep throat, bronchitis that
just wouldn’t quit,
we felt them all.
Did you know that I couldn’t breathe
without tears for a month?

Sometimes I ask myself,
had I known
you had but seven hours left
before slumping into nothingness,
would my children have a grandfather?
Would my health not be so poor?

Your body left us
on your favorite holiday
and I,
I am now too sick to hike
to the mountain pass,
your final resting place.
Well-meaning hugs and passed along food plates,
my body too shaken to fight back,
I let in this slow,
explosion, and
my body forgot how to let go.

Doctors tell me that they don’t know why
some people develop chronic fatigue
and others don’t.
They don’t know why my blood
wages constant battle
or why
peace is so hard fought.
They tell me to carry on.


Did you know I don’t like writing about you?
Did you know that I am still angry?
Did you know that the world
and your family
and all of your inherited things
haven’t yet figured out what it means
to say

You’re gone.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

7 replies on “Knowledge: A Poem For Father’s Day”

Would you believe that this did not rank so well at the poetry slam? I guess you have to hate your parents to do well there… ;) (I jest because I care. Or something.)

Maybe it had something to do with it being the Halloween slam and I was dressed as Wednesday Addams.

Anyway, glad you appreciated it, since “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word.

Leave a Reply