Trying to Keep My Father Safe in the Time of Covid-19
by Gail Goepfert

At 97, hasn’t he survived it all.
Rolled all the dice. Laid it all on the line.

World War II. Battle of the Bulge.
Baths taken from his helmet in foxholes.

Reckless teen years of three children.
Gallbladder, sinus, cataract surgery.

Job loss and transfers. Debt.
Widowhood. Late-stage cerebral fog.

He functions but totters now      shuffles—
too many falls of late. His knees buckle.

I caution, then will him not to try the stairs—
picture him in isolation, a hospital casualty.

No more Wal-mart, Dad. No more. I hear
myself beg. I fear he can’t master mask

and gloves, cart and cane. Or remember
not to rub his cloudy eyes, his drippy nose.

We delay the lawyer will-signing—put off
planning for demise for fear of dying.

PAINTING: “Crepuscular Old Man” by Salvador Dali (1917-1918).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is the author of three books—A Mind on Pain (Finishing Line Press), Tapping Roots (Kelsay Books), and Get Up Said the World appearing in 2020 (Červená Barva Press). Recent publications include Journal of Compressed Arts, Bluestem, Rogue Agent, and Beloit Poetry Journal.Visit her at and on Facebook and Twitter.