Right of Way

Standing back for Dad
was practical, like wide doors
in his retirement home.
They allowed residents
in wheelchairs and walkers
to pass with relative ease.

As our parents taught,
we stand aside for others.
People coming out a door,
from an elevator,
off a mountain top.
Exiting a parking lot.

Towel-wrapped bodies
goose-pimpled as they
emerge from the sauna,
borne on a humid sigh
into the cold room. We
await a turn in the steam.

Travel-weary passengers
disembark before
new passengers board.
The bar we’ve read about
has reached capacity, so
we wait in hesitant snow.

And we stand aside
for the man wheeling
a carton of scarred green
oxygen tanks, the same
quiet man who assembled
the rented hospital bed.

On the last Tuesday morning,
Dad told me he was ready
to go. I said I couldn’t help.
Just don’t get in the way, he said,
tired eyes lit by his own joke
as he looked for the way out.


“Right of Way” first appeared in The Timberline Review, Issue 6, Winter/Spring 2018.