My Father in the Night
My father sleeps when the city rages
around him and rises to work the graveyard
shift in the linen department of a hospital.
Boxed in his heavy-curtained room,
the glass window shut,
we would think him dead if not for his
snoring, amplified by the thick, stagnant air
which holds the sound before it
dissipates and is absorbed by the walls.
Before he leaves for work,
my father sits at the table, eating
his meat and rice, his children
bewildered by the sight of him.
With boiled eggs and bread slices in a brown bag,
he steals away into the urban darkness
while his wife stumbles into bed, alone,
rearranging the disheveled sheets.
And my father in the night
changes the sheets on hundreds
of hospital beds, the kind where he laid
when his skin was like potato-sack burlap
from dialysis and chemotherapy.
He removes the soiled pillow cases, replacing
them with starched ones. He puts on the white
sheet, unfolding it in the air like a woman’s
skirt, settling it down onto the mattress.
Joseph O. Legaspi