Going Up
Carol Barrett

Going Up

When my father died, I kissed
his cheek, still warm, not yet
cooling to the undertaker’s deft
touch, body bagged and draped
with red velvet, carried along
the short passageway from bedroom
to kitchen, then the remaining
distance to the whirring
elevator, final ride from top floor
down to first.
                     Going up, he always
asked if anyone wanted six, playfully.
There were only three floors at Canterbury.
Whatever was on the sixth, well,
something to wonder. No doubt
some thought of a billowy heaven,
clouds of archangels, or ferris wheels
rocking above the aches and pains
of this world.
                     Others jumped
to a confused mind, like the woman
living here, unable to find the right
room without calling each number
in turn and tapping the door
methodically, passing displays of china
in the hall—Lenox, Spode, Mikasa—
some relic of a happier time
when the closest thing to death
was the wild turkey stuffed and roasted
to perfection, sides still warm
as my father sharpened
the carving knife, let out its juice.

Carol Barrett

holds doctorates in both clinical psychology and creative writing and teaches for Union Institute & University. Her books include Calling in the Bones, winner of the Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. A former NEA fellow in poetry, she lives in Bend, Oregon.