Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

The Vagaries of Empathy

by  Arthur McMaster

He thought of them, occasionally. His elderly parents.

What the two of them had been through. Their many moves.

Illnesses. The distance. Their now quieting voices.

Indeed, there were times when they’d been more on his mind,

though he suspected those moments had to do with need.

Certainly, they’d thought of him. Being with them.

He, the eldest. A young man with promise. Pretty wife. Kids.

Thinking maybe he’d decide to drive them all up once in a while

to visit. Not unlike the way rain falls in March on the prayerful,

patient Joshuas. The way a stranger might toss a quarter into a cup.

All of them seated there again at the old, heavy-wood dinner table.

Tom, too. Though he’s been gone nearly three years from some

unforeseen illness. Their second son. A fine athlete. Vietnam…

No one in a hurry. No one needing to check their phone.

Together. Forgivers and the forgiven. Listening. Listening.