Green Hills Literary Lantern







The night before


my heart surgery

I treated myself to a hot bath,

after months of in-and-out showers,

amidst a busy life.

The bath was soothing,

but the reason for it

came into the room with me,

and wouldn't leave.

I thought of my father,

on the day of his surgery,

calling my brother and me in to tell us

how much he had enjoyed us as children.

I lay in the warm water

trying to absorb the fact that

my time had come so soon, thinking,

surely, there must be some mistake.

The years were not supposed

to run off of me

like rain off a pitched roof.

Why, only yesterday,

I was making my first communion

at St. Anthony of Padua church,

worrying about being struck by lightning

if I let the wafer hit my teeth.

My mother, my father, and my brother

were all there watching me.


I swallowed it whole,

and was spared.



Barry W. North lives in Hahnville, La. with his wife, Diane. He worked for the St. Charles Parish School System for twenty-eight years as a refrigeration mechanic. Since his retirement in 2007, his work his appeared in, or is scheduled to appear in, Slipstream, Aries, The Iconoclast, Art Times, Ginosko, The Louisiana Review, and many others. He has won the 2010 A.E. Coppard Prize for fiction for his short story "Along the Highway," which will be published in a chapbook by White Eagle Coffee Store Press in November.