Recently, you have been everywhere. I carry
your journals as weathered talismans, a sign
of misguidance – the way you stole
my voice when I was five and I learned
that mountains shed such long shadows
in rooms that don’t face the sun. I thought
I saw you, the other day, walking down West St.
It was you, gaunt face, faded
baseball cap, hooked nose. Only you disappeared
up some unknown gravel driveway and walked
into some unfamiliar house. Lately,
you have been visiting me and I don’t have the strength
to tell you to leave. You never mentioned
my name in all of your nine journals. I searched, checked the spaces
in between the words, scanned the yellowed pages. So I wrote
in black felt tip, “He had a daughter.”
Maybe now that you are gone
you will remember.
I have been seeing you often. Not as a ghost,
but bodily, solid. I remember the way your flesh looked
in the end – elastic and pale. Maybe that’s when you remembered me –
doesn’t death always reclaim names from the subconscious?
Like smells from childhood. Your grandmother’s
wooden cupboards decayed by moths; your yellowing
heart buried in sequestered pages I’ve uncovered.
I swear you descended our backyard steps late last night, swear
I heard you say my name; whispered it with the breeze in
the tomato plants that are now just rising from your
ashes beneath the walnut tree,
so tall and wide –
the towering father
amongst the inconsequential grass.
*Out of all this I’ve learned the steady art
of breathing. In and out. Over and over. Lungs
expanding, rib cage widening, the soft innards
of sides making hollow space.