My Father's Booming Cough

My father’s booming cough

would echo off the walls and through St. Joseph’s Church,

and end up an asthmatic wheeze somewhere between

his sagging shoulders and down to his arthritic knees.

That’s how I could always find him

in a crowded gathering or noisy gym…

that cough was signature of him.

So often as a child when I would stray,

following curiosities that caught my eye:

A broken spider’s web, a fallen leaf, a dying fly…

I would look up to find him gone

And just as I was on the verge of tears

I’d hear his cough

And instantly be free of all that fear inside me.

Yesterday I heard his cough again. How could that be?

It’s twenty years since my dad passed away.

His cough was coming out of me.