“Appointments,” “Steps,” and “Last Days”


Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash


I wait for the next appointment knowing

it will arrive as another scheduled day

where I’ll put my body in a stranger’s hands.

That person in white will study my numbers,

listen to my heart, press fingers into my flesh,

and then say words over my nakedness

with all the authority of a MD who’s seen

this before, who’s sure what I should do next.

I’ll take it all in, nodding, processing it all,

asking the few questions that stumble out.

I’ll carry it home, this verdict that will turn

me somber or release my still held breath.

I will know what ways my body will shape

another day, what appointments I must keep.


Through the window of a restaurant, I watch

an elderly man wait for his driver, perhaps

his granddaughter, to open his door. She

offers a hand which he chooses not to accept.

Instead, he turns his body by lifting his thin legs

out the car and places his feet on the pavement.

He reaches for the doorframe to pull himself up.

Seeing his hard struggle, she helps the lift

by tugging on his arm and the frail man finds

himself standing, almost steady, anticipating

his next move, one slow foot forward, then

another, then another, his helper holding on.

I slide my seventy-five-years from the booth,

wait by the exit to see a man’s next steps.

Last Days

Wobbling toward death, the physical wreck

of an old man worries what might be next

as he holds himself together with the twine

of his forgetful mind. It’s a losing cause,

this tying, this knot of wishful thinking

now that he’s over the hill, over the bumps

of life’s uncertainties. He wraps himself

in a blanket, trying to keep the cold away,

and reaches for his coffee to take the last

of today’s pills. He gulps their empty

promise, keeping the daily pretense alive,

honoring his contract to those who still care.

He nods off in his worn chair, swallowing

the spit of thoughts he wants to escape.

About the Author

Ronald Pelias

Ronald J. Pelias spent most of his career writing books, e.g., If the Truth Be Told (Brill Publications), The Creative Qualitative Researcher (Routledge), and Lessons on Aging and Dying (Routledge) that call upon the literary as a research strategy. Now he just lets his poems lead him where they want to go.