Skip to main content

Night Watch

ISSUE:  Spring 2009

A man was driving past the hospital with his son
when he felt a fluttering in his chest
which at first he took for nerves, because it was snowing
very hard and his young son was cranky
and squirming and how could he possibly see the road
with all this weather?
Then his hand began
to hurt, and then his wrist and arm,
so he pulled to the side of the road,
where, moments later, he died.


And the snow fell like angels,
and the boy watched
them cover the windows. Such snow
he had never seen, his father
asleep beside him, snow sifting
over the hush of the city and the car,
which grew darker,
dark as his room at night
and quiet, buried in snow.
And soon, he, too,
was asleep. And soon, the engine died.


I made up this story
sitting beside my father’s bed.
Outside the hospital,
it had begun to snow,
capping the cars twenty stories down.
And the liquid in his lungs,
the drip and its clear tube,
the nurses lost to their machines and trays,
the sun long set—
in a whirl of snow, I hoped,
the brain goes dim and cold, a hush of snow
when the breathing stops
and the heart beats on
for a minute or so—


And all night long, cars swooped past the hospital,
headlights and wipers,
men hunched in their cockpits
through the blinding snow toward home.
The high window
looked over the freeway
where the child in my story slept in his father’s car,
his face grown cold and his fingers numb.
And all night, silent nurses
swept past the room
where I kept my watch.


And the cops wiped snow from the window
with their fists. They rapped on the glass,
but no one moved. They knocked a little harder,
then tried the door,
which was frozen shut.
My father, as I implied, would die that night.
That was thirty days ago.
And the boy,
he was far below, in a story I invented,
sleeping in a car
as daylight broke through clouds,
and try as they might,
they couldn’t wake him.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading