The lilies leaning from their vase, opening their legs, their arms, even their splitting pale-pink torsos over the kitchen table — its clutter of bills and crumbs. Leaning toward the mess of the day, the endless ordinary scatter, opening, opening — as if a mess were something to seduce, as if, with their rich pollen, offered up like smudged gold dust, they could bring back wonder to the world, make it whole again. Meanwhile someone’s tiny yellow parakeet, escaped or freed, keeps flinging her bright body at the window — as I do sometimes, longing for what’s gone. Meanwhile my father the used-to-be doctor, the once-upon-a-time magna cum laude, lurches across the border to the Mexican farmacias, loading up his old leather bag like a freedom fighter, like someone on a noble mission, bringing hope and sustenance to the dispossessed — and perhaps he is, the dispossessed, in this case, being himself. Pills mashed into liquid, needle slid into a vein, breasts of a stranger bought and held like ordinary fruit — the brown suns of her nipples, will they coax from him a sudden, rusty tenderness? Or maybe not, maybe he only wants a hand job, or to get sucked off, or maybe neither of those works, at almost seventy, after all the drugs — yet still the drive is there, like a kid in a shut-down arcade, who can’t stop pushing buttons, pulling levers on the dimmed machines. Still, everything connects somewhere; even my father’s twisted pilgrimage is fueled by what a poet called the force that through the green fuse drives the flower — same force that spreads these lilies open to the messy world, keeps us leaning the same way over the weary debris of the days, splayed and thrusting toward what might complete us, each of us a yellow bird, flying toward the glass. And when my father ejaculates, if he still can, in the hand or mouth or sex of a Mexican whore — who isn’t just a whore, of course, but someone’s daughter sister mother, maybe someone’s wife, maybe even a woman who belongs to herself, nurtures her own spindly dream, like a scraggly geranium in a dented coffee can in front of some shack somewhere, and if she gives it water, it will live — anyway, when my father comes, which, despite the decades of damage, he probably still can, what’s there in that fluid is half of what I am. And if I truly open, like the lilies on the table, wide enough to see it all, the way, in its cloudlessness, the blue sky, like a giant eye, sees us all — if I write: lily, addict, bird, father, whore, geranium, if I look closely enough at each separate thing, maybe I’ll glimpse the place it joins each other thing — and finds it, and is found by it, made whole.
This poem is part of a longer unpublished work.