With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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The spirit of my dying father
stands in the road, his skin
luminous as an angel’s, his bones betraying
a wish for wings, the tree’s shadow over him
like a hand, like the infinite clock of the beginning
counting out the first hours.
I cross the landscape of a late-summer afternoon.
Children drift home. My father’s whistle
cuts across air. Calls us back.
Fills our bellies.
At dusk in my old bedroom
I would watch the streets empty and the porches
close up. The soft touch of a breeze
over my skin, my whole body
echoing with touch, the neighbors’ voices
trailing out of open windows,
the line of a song someone might sing
thinking they were alone.
Sometimes my father would sit with me
and we’d listen to Mrs. Wescott
throw her drunken husband out,
his Ford wagon full of ladders and paint pails
rattling off down the road.
Few words passed between us.
Nothing now, I think, except the dying.
I see him there, already, beside the tree,
longing for us.