The following is a poem from Black Lab by David Young, published by Alfred A. Knopf in February.
January 3, 2003
My father's breathing chugs and puffs and catches,
a slow train slowing further, rattling in
to its last stop, a locked and shuttered station.
Ninety-nine years this pair of lungs, this heart,
have done their work without complaint.
Time now to let them stop and draw their wages.
The years slide down a chute and disappear;
as memories dissolve and vaporize,
the body simplifies to mottled matter,
and if the myths have got it right for once,
he turns to find a welcome somewhere else,
to touch my mother's face and make her smile.
—"January 3, 2003." Reprinted from Black Lab by David Young (Knopf, 2006). Copyright 2006 by David Young.