Before he was bedridden and had to wear
adult diapers, my dad wanted only to stand to pee.
My brother and I would take him under the arms,
and on the count of three, hoist his big bear’s body
from the recliner that had become his bed.
We helped him shuffle to the bathroom,
my brother bearing more of the load
as I pushed Dad’s legs forward with my thigh.
A couple times, I pretended that instead of hanging on,
my dad hugged me, saying Atta girl, you’ve done well.
But really, he was moaning, pained.
By the time we reached the toilet, he’d be out of breath,
confused, too sick for his typical modesty.
My brother and I knew the gift we gave Dad
each time we did this, and even when he lost aim,
and I didn’t have the heart to hold his penis
like a parent might a distracted toddler’s,
and he peed down my leg, I didn’t mind:
he had to need us then, which felt something like love.
Lindsey Royce earned her Ph.D. from the University of Houston’s poetry program and M.A. from New York University’s poetry program. Her poems have appeared in many journals including New York Quarterly, Poet Lore, Poetry East and Hampden Sydney Review. Her first collection of poems, Leaving Empty Handed, is forthcoming from WordTech Communications in September. She lives in Steamboat Springs, CO and is a professor of English at Colorado Mountain College.