Dad at 90

Being cordless but low-tech,
He won’t talk on the phone anymore.

He says it’s lost somewhere,
Perhaps on the kitchen counter

Near the smear of mustard
Or by the slice of bologna–

Though I know it’s right there
In his pants pocket or his walker’s box

Where Zelda the Forest cat sleeps
Dreaming of Norwegian life.

I picture him rolling slowly
Out to his third-floor balcony

To unfurl the American flag
In the warm Santa Ana wind

While the 210 Freeway rumbles and
Mumbles above Old Pasadena.

Sirens and helicopters chatter and whine
While he waits for the green emerald

Parakeets to arrive from the foothills
To preen and prattle in tall swaying pines.

He listens absently to a ringtone;
Then, moving his hand across his pants pocket,

He lifts Zelda to check
The empty box.

Don Cadwallader

Published in
Front Porch Review (January 2013)

Hampton Train

Awakened by the whisperings of doubt,
I listened instead to the sounds of night.

Among them I heard
the distant whistle
of the Hampton train.

In time, its first slow rumbles
sounded louder, louder,
like ocean waves
pounding the shores,
then clattered with hammers
on the cold steel lines.

I joined in the sway
of the sound, and traveled back
through the years
even to the beginnings
of love.

Later, I heard
the distant whistle again,
a whisper farther away.

With doubt dissolved,
all that was left
was the echo
of warning bells
after the gates
had lifted.

Don Cadwallader