When we finally sprang my father from the hospital
again, after days spent staring at the cardio unit’s
cinderblock walls the color of nothing
good, his joy could not be contained.
Every meal he ate was the best he’d ever had.
I worried, at first, that my mother would feel slighted
at his ecumenical praise—the biscuits on the buffet line
at the Golden Corral no less holy than hers. But she knew
better than I did how to savor his delights.
As we traveled the back roads from doctor to home
he would breathe in the world, asking again and again,
Have you ever seen a fall as beautiful as this,
the red of that maple, the blue of the sky?
Will you ever see one again?

Inspired by a line in a poem by Mark Flanigan: “Fuck mystery. Give me joy; that is mystery enough.”