how my father always used that word, peculiar,
as if it were a medicine, or a stone he kept

deep in his brown trouser pocket so he could
remove it at will, to stare at and admire,

like when we drove into the Catskills,
those great unconscious slopes . . . peculiar,

Dad would say, as if awe could be defeated
by three willed syllables. Or as we sat around

the kitchen table, our four bodies —
mother, father, sister, myself — shaping our own

Zeiger galaxy. And Mom would bring
out a new food, an artichoke, let’s say, and

Dad would look down on it, a serene and spiky
green steaming on the flowered plate, and then,

as if to tame it, would announce, peculiar, which is what
I still think, seven years later, of the fact that he is dead.