bedtime story, age 96

bedtime story, age 96
Nolan Liebert


I talked to Mom today,
you don’t remember her,
but you birthed her sometime 70 years ago, anyway
she told me you were dying,
and I’m grateful you probably don’t remember
the doctor, leaning close to the nurse, whispering,
“Six months, max.”

You’re retaining water;
modern medicine says your kidneys are shutting down,
that your heart is failing,
but I think the water is just a substitute
for the weight of lost memories –
don’t worry,
I have so many.

Let me tell you:
one time, we picked up metal scraps in the alley –
Dad melted them down at work,
cut and carved them into a magic amulet –
on the way we battled comic book villains,
and at night we cut out our own monsters,
and taped them to the wall to scare away nightmares.

The paper monsters don’t work anymore,
I’m too old and they’ve gotten too smart
with their fees and paperwork and responsibilities –
I want to come visit,
but some pirates took my money, and Mom is busy
trying to forget you with her credit card
and she started a new exercise routine of running away.

I want to play a game. Go hide, hide as best you can,
in a place God himself couldn’t find you –
someplace better than a grave, no,
and ditch the hospital gown –
go hide in our history, let the water disappear,
and I’ll send you stories you won’t remember.
Let me start with the time you didn’t die.

Nolan Liebert hails from the Black Hills where he lives with his wife and children in a house, not a covered wagon. His proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility feeds his obsession with dark matter, as his farmboy roots fed his obsession with plants, herbs, and alchemy. His literary experiments appear or are forthcoming in An Alphabet of Embers, Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, and elsewhere. You can find him editing Pidgeonholes or on twitter @nliebert.