Losing Control

by Joseph Higdon

grayscale photography of patient and relative holding hands
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com


The first cancer-eaten bone that broke
caused my mother to collapse at the doorstep
and scrape her face against the gravel driveway.

The second rotted bone that broke
loosened her from my ignorant grip,
and she scraped her face again
against the grit and gravel.

The frail bones that forced her
into the hospital soon confined her
to this medical bed at home.

As she lay
facing her last hours,
I asked
if losing control
frustrated her the most.

Tears pooled in her pale eyes,
and a faint nod
sent them spilling
over the surface wound scabs.

I told her how a young boy on a bike
once roared “Vroooom”
past my house down the road,
then returned and wheelied,
returned again, “Swoosh—swoosh”
as he slalomed the pot holes,
then swerved in and out of the ditch,
“Heeeeen—yah!” with each switch
of his imaginary gears.

When I explained the impression it left
that we work all our lives
to gain independence
and practice self-control,
then dread surrendering
in the end,

my mother’s clammy hand crawled to mine;
her feeble fingers clung once,
weakened and lay lifeless—
our last exchange
before she let go of this world.


Joseph Higdon has an Associates degree from Kellogg Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in English education from Western Michigan University and a journalism minor from Michigan State University.  A former high school English and journalism teacher, he now works in production with the goal of becoming a training and development specialist. He has had poems and short stories published in small college journals, local newspapers and library anthologies.

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