Roger Pfingston

Normal Talk

In a mint-green room my dad talks non-stop after a triple by-pass, thinking maybe he'll die anyway, all that money down the drain, six hours with his chest split open, the nurse promising he'll be up and walking the halls in a day.

Dad still talking at one a.m., hugging his heart pillow as I listen, taking notes and watching for any movement under the sheets, hands inching down to worry over the catheter, pull at it, his eyes on me and talking monotone like some movie bad guy, me the sonofabitch who's keeping him there when all he wants is home, asking my mother with venom earlier in the evening who she thought she was doing this to him, she could have his money, he just wanted to goddamn go home.

Talking now about the twenties when Casper Roseberry saved his ass after Dad hung a water bucket on a plow line and spooked a young mule as the bucket slapped against its flank and the mule exploded, kicking and running, dragging my dad till Casper grabbed the lines and talked the mule to a jittery calm, which is what I wish I could do for my dad.

Jumping now to the early forties, the first of many restaurants, Dillingham Cafe in Evansville, Indiana, where, when the war broke out, the owner "released" the Japanese cook and hired my dad. A few days later the Japanese hanged himself,  Dad at 82 still carrying that dark spot in his chest, deeper than the cut of any surgeon's blade.

The nurse just in, whispering to me a pint of blood will make his talk normal again.

Roger Pfingston's work has appeared in Salt River Review, Poetry East, Adirondack Review, Poetry Midwest, Quarterly West, and other magazines. Two chapbooks appeared last year:  Earthbound from Pudding House Publications and Singing to the Garden from Parallel Press.


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