My father carried in his billfold
an article about the shelf life
of bypasses. This cold heart
he revealed to us daily.
He wanted to know when
inky blood would stop flowing:
that end-of-the-road spot on a map.
I’m living on borrowed time
his mantra for twenty-two years,
hoping we’d love him
for an overdue expiration date.
All I knew of this term I learned
from milk containers.
If liquid became sour,
down the drain it went.
When his heart slogged to a stop
the doctor shocked it
three times to no avail.
That folded paper remained
in his final wallet, the print
smeared away from years of wear.
Maureen Sherbondy’s most recent poetry collection is Lines in Opposition. Her work has appeared in Prelude, European Judaism, Calyx, Upstreet, and other journals. Maureen lives in Durham, NC. She also writes fiction.