After graduation, after a divorce, after an election
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We circle the newly paved streets
his own exclusive neighborhood,
and he points out the lunacy
of other people’s excess:
houses that stand huge and incomplete,
the victims of a developer’s scheme.
It is often hard to tell
exactly what is missing.
Some offer up small clues: round
wounds where doorknobs should be,
the long blank face
of a house without shutters.
My father is a distracted
tour guide, or perhaps he is only
trying too hard. I let him
circle the same unfinished
pretend not to notice
when he rounds a familiar corner
and points out for the second time
the place where he saw a deer
nursing her fawn in the remaining woods
by the house left half painted.
It isn’t a question of not loving
my father when I don’t stare off
at the spot he points to.
I am merely exhausted by his need
to treat me to a moment filled
with great beauty, as if he is not certain
I forgive him for this new life of his.
As if my mother is still clinging
to me on the couch, asking what she
should do with the rest of her life,
and my brother is practicing dark
sciences in our old suburban basement.
As if whole new lifetimes haven’t
swept down complete upon us.
On the way home we both run out of words
all over again. Finally my father tells me
that this is a tricky street,
the old one we are rolling down now,
the way the crossroad creeps up on you
at the bottom, the stop sign
hidden from view until the last moment.