Word of the Day

By James Mulhern

The word of the day is copacetic.

I see my brother and me packing suitcases for our trip.

In the frame of the doorway my father stands.

“Everything copacetic?” he says.

One time I asked him where he learned that word.

“As a Marine,” and he told me about his service in the Korean War.

“It was tough,” he said.


In the end, I visited him at the hospital.

“Have some Jell-O.” I held a spoon with a wobble of red before his face.

“Don’t want it.”

“You’ve got to eat, Dad.”

“I’m not hungry.” He pushed it away.

I sat by him from morning until shadows crossed his face.

Mostly he slept. Sometimes he asked what time it was.

I left at nine. The nurse called.

“Your father’s agitated. He wants to leave. Talking about a trip.”

“I’ll be there soon.”


I stand in the doorway of his hospital room. He’s at the window,

wearing the blue bathrobe my sister gave him.

“It brings out your eyes,” she told him.

“Everything copacetic?” I say.

He turns and looks.

“It was tough,” he says.

I guide him to the bed and sleep in the chair beside him.

When I wake, I find that he has gone.