Literary Magazine Review

(Vol. 11, No. 2, Summer, 1992)
Hammers #4

by Nettie Farris

“Watching Daddy Die,” by Jeffrey Spahr-Summers, is hauntingly moving. Ironically, this poem is not about watching daddy die, but about the speaker’s inability to do so. The poem begins with a distanced description: “Something weighs heavy on the man/Lulled to sleep deep in the recliner.” And the speaker, who lives several states away from his parents, is inquisitive, calm: something makes me wonder/Why death deals a winning hand/Then shouts foul play across the table.” But the poem moves quickly to the personal and takes an emotional turn: “But who is the old man silent behind me.” Following lines prepare the reader for the poem’s well-achieved ending: “I’m afraid to watch mama cry,/I’m not strong enough to watch daddy die.”