By Mark Belair

I see an elderly man

sitting alone on the edge of a bed

looking back to where his wife once slept.


Then I see him

taking off his eyeglasses

and setting them on a nightstand

then, with some effort, pulling off each shoe and sock

before standing and emptying his pockets of things—

keys, coins, wallet—

that join the eyeglasses.


Then I see him

frowning while fingering these nightstand objects

as if they were emblems of everyday abilities—

vision, access, profiting—become

stolen by age.


Then I see him

sitting and undressing

and leaving his clothes in a bedside heap

while, stripped, slipping in under the sheet

on his side of the bed.


Then after he fixes

his cloudy eyes

on the dimming, flickering

nightstand light, I see him,

with a soft, trembling hand,

reach out.


Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His books include the collection While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013) and two chapbook collections: Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. For more information, please visit

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