corey mesler





            Take me back. Not to the hospital bed where he lay in his last hours, wires everywhere, family around, grave and bleak. Take me back to his Lazy-boy, to his den, me beside him. It doesnít have to be the house I lived in. It can be the crappy apartment where they last lived, my mom and him. Put me beside him, the TV on, of course, itís Sunday. Thereís a game on. It can be football, his beloved Buffalo, or baseball and his beloved St. Louis. Put me back so that I can do that conversation over again, the one about dying, the one about what he means to me, how he taught me to walk the world. Let me say the right things this time. Let it register on his face. It never registered on his face, how much I loved him, how much he meant to me. I must not have had the words. If I had had the correct words, the weighty words, the poignant words, I would have seen him soften, seen his face crease with feeling. But I never had that moment. And when he died in the middle of the night and I was not there but my mother and brother and sister were, what was that like? Did he speak? Did he have last words like in the stories we tell each other? Somehow I never got around to asking anyone. My wife woke me. It was around 1:30 in the morning. She put her arms around me and told me he was gone. And I did not cry. I only wanted to go back to sleep. I only wanted that moment to not have come and to go back to sleep and dream of when I was a boy and heówhat? What did he do when I was a boy? I have no clear memory of a defining moment, a father-son moment. I didnít want my wife, my loving, beautiful wife, to put her arms around me and see me not cry. Take me back to that moment. Maybe I can cry then like I did later. Take me back to when I was a son and a father and I knew some things that I donít know now. Tell me there was a time like that because, believe me, I am fuzzy on the details. Take me back to a time when I touched my fatherís soft hand and held it like he was the son and I was the knowing one, the adult. Was there a moment like that? Take me back. Let me try to discover if there was a moment like that.


COREY MESLER has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He is the author of four novels, 3 books of short stories, 2 full-length collections of poetry, as well as numerous chapbooks of poetry and prose.  He and his wife own Burkeís Book Store in Memphis TN.


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