Last night I watched what was, perhaps, one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen: The Road. And while it’s embarassing to admit that I, who might be described as the literay type, have not yet read the Cormac McCarthy book, I can safely say that I now intend to. Why? Because I don’t think I cared for the movie. I’m not convinced it was a book worthy of adapting, and that’s got nothing to do with the writing of the book itself, mind you. See, nothing really happens in the movie. Actually, something happens in the movie, which I can sum up here: “A father and son travel to the coast on foot in a post-apocalyptic society.”
The end. Seriously, that’s it. And, yes, other events take place during the course of the film, but not enough to warrent a visual retelling of the book. And that alone is why I take issue with the movie, as it simply didn’t warrant two hours of screen time. In my mind, the “story” would have played out more effectively in my mind as a result of reading the book. From what I understand, I’m not the only one who felt this way, as it wasn’t a well-received movie, critically. I think, instead, the film industry was trying to capitalize on the adaptation of No Country For Old Men, which is both a stellar McCarthy book and one of my favorite movies.
So what, then, does this have to do with today’s poem? Well, I guess The Road prompted me to think of “Death Bed,” a piece from my MFA thesis in which the speaker imagines that moment when he addresses his dying father. From what I recall, my peers never workshopped this poem; rather, it was only my thesis advisor who provided feedback.
That’s where I’ll find him, draped in skin gone slack.
He’ll call me over in the same sour breath
he demanded his scotch and rocks then snatch it
from me as if it were a holy grail. Still,
I’ll come to him like I always have — a ghost,
waiting to be exorcised or channeled —
maybe place my hand on his: a kind of comfort,
though I couldn’t say for whom. Maybe this time
when I touch him, when my skin returns
to the man who made me, it won’t be the burning
I’ve come to expect, but something frigid, brittle,
so entirely out of whack I won’t know whether
to yank my hand away, or to leave it be,
wondering if I touched my father at all.