Spotlight: Golden Years

Because nursing homes were for gringos,
my grandfather spent his last years
on the couch, idle, silent, drooling
as he watched novelas, old episodes
of Cops, and—as hour after hour passed—
never once blinking, even when I snuck up,
flashed my silliest faces in front of his eyes.
Like a monk, or the Queen’s Guard,
he remained stoic, lost in his thoughts,
and indifferent when my father, out of habit,
asked if he was hungry, if he wanted to eat
with us. And though he said nothing,
signaled neither yes or no when he grunted,
coughed, my father nodded to me for help,
and together, with our arms on his torso,
back, we lifted the limp mass he’d become,
carried him to the table, as though we were dragging
a soldier, a brother we tried to comfort,
knowing that no matter how much we whispered
Hang on, hang on, whatever was left of him
would never make it home.

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press, 2019). His poetry has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Washington Square Review, and Puerto del Sol, with new poems forthcoming in phoebe, TriQuarterly, and Booth. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, TX.