I Never Said Goodbye

He left when I was sixteen.
Shortly before, I looked at him,
fragile as a chick just hatched, and
felt the knife turn in my stomach.
I never went to see him again.

Stricken with polio nine months
before my first breath,
in a hospital bed my first years,
then in a wheelchair
until his back was braced so he could walk,
and work at a desk to provide us.

A calm, gentle way,
lean frame, strong chin, face even,
like Abraham Lincoln,
strong enough to touch the ground
and point to the stars.

When I was sixteen,
I had dug myself a hole and crawled in,
hiding from a cruel society.
My father’s lungs filled with something
his weakened body couldn’t fight.
I never said goodbye. 

-- Robert G., Adult