Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“When Dad was still alive” – a poem


When Dad was still alive

When Dad was still alive,
Dilma was still President,
Trump hadn’t been elected,
time hadn’t been suspended.

But the wave was swelling:
Brexit had stolen our breath;
Dad on his hospital screen
watched Turkey turning to shreds;

and fake news, insane shooters
burst out of their hiding spots
while thousands banged their anger
on right-wing slogans and pots.

When Dad was still alive,
The plague was but a twinkle
in the universe’s eye,
and we gathered and waited

and hoped against all odds
Dad’s exit would not arrive,
as lights went out one by one,
as tenuous threads dissolved,

as old resentments surfaced,
as the room turned icy cold;
we pretended not to know
he was what connected us.

Now we’re each in our caves;
he visits me with warnings
and once even an embrace
in my dreams as I wonder

if he’d bear to grow older,
if he could’ve talked some sense
into our wayward voters,
if he’d stand to stick around

for all the funerals
while calling out the posers,
if he’d stay in the trenches
even when it was hopeless,

and patch our gaps with dessert,
drown our fears in beer mugs –
“Nothing like a good shuteye,”
when Dad was still alive.

Ana Beatriz Ribeiro, 26/01/2021

My dad and I at my brother's high school graduation, six years before his death. Photo: Leila Pereira
Dad and I at my brother’s high school graduation, six years before his death in July 2016. Photo: Leila Cordeiro

A Global Studies doctoral degree holder and former newspaper reporter, avid eater, pseudo-philosopher and poet, occasion-propelled singer, semi-professional socializer, movie addict, Brazilian-American nomad. In this space, she will share some of her experiences and (mis)adventures regarding various topics, with special attention to social issues.

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