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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 7, 2018.
About this Poem 

“My father was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease in 2001. He was forty-five years old, and I was eleven. This poem lives in the mysteries between diagnosis and a degenerative future.”
—Andrés Cerpa

Parkinson’s Disease: Autumn

When I woke for school the next day the sky was uniform & less than infinite        	
  with the confusion of autumn & my father
 
as he became distant with disease the way a boy falls beneath the ice,
  before the men that cannot save him—
 
the cold like a forever on his lips.
 
Soon, he was never up before us & we’d jump on the bed,
  wake up, wake up,
 
& my sister’s hair was still in curls then, & my favorite photograph still hung:
  my father’s back to us, leading a bicycle uphill.
 
At the top, the roads vanish & turn—
 
the leaves leant yellow in a frozen sprint of light, & there, the forward motion. 
 
The nights I laid in the crutch of my parents’ doorway & dreamt awake,
  listened like a field of snow,
 
I heard no answer. Then sleepless slept in my own arms beneath the window
  to the teacher’s blank & lull—
 
Mrs. Belmont’s lesson on Eden that year. Autumn: dusk:
 
  my bicycle beside me in the withered & yet-to-be leaves,
 
& my eyes closed fast beneath the mystery of migration, the flock’s rippled wake:

Copyright © 2018 by Andrés Cerpa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Andrés Cerpa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Andrés Cerpa

Andrés Cerpa’s poetry collection Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy is forthcoming from Alice James Books in January 2019.