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Finish Line

by: Shana Genre

Come to the hospital,
she said.
He’s dead.

My father,
body cold and still
ears deaf

sinewy form stretched,
finally at rest,
the number from the half-

marathon marked along legs
that ran beside me
when I learned how to ride a bike.

Touch him.
This is your
last chance.

But I did not dare to touch
the cool flesh,
the splayed hands.

I could not look
at his eyes,
gently closed,

as if recalling
his first taste of chocolate,
lips softly curved upward.

I watched, not knowing
what to do with my hands,
my eyes, my mouth.

I stood apart—
my fear of death,
its contagion, its finality

keeping me at the fringes,
where I drew no comfort
from the white walls

or my mother’s final kiss.
It had all happened too soon.
We were strangers here.

Shana Genre is a poet and satirist based in Portland, Maine. Her work has appeared in The Cafe Review, McSweeney’s, Frost Meadow Review, The Haven, and Balancing Act 2: An Anthology of Poems by Fifty Maine Women, for which she won the Editor’s Choice award.


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