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Poetry

It takes a lifetime’s blindness to see one’s father.
                                        —Cid Corman

My father mumbled forth his violated commandments for half my life. I inscribed them on incense and holy water and when I drank them they tasted like cigarette ashes in a coca-cola can. There were no tablets save the pills he didn’t take. Like Moses stuttering to the stones and scrub brush, his dictates turned me into a desperate Aaron, bewildered, dutifully translating the fire raging in a reed thicket into the voice of God. He slept for days on end, dreaming apple orchards. He believed the smell of college elevator steel was sacred. Once he pronounced the stars memory-less pickpockets. He decried windows. He expounded upon the intractability of silverware. I fought him twice and both times he had the strength of the archangel ascending into heaven, swooping down the mountain. Birds were not his emissaries. Canaan, he would have us all know, was a broken dinner plate and asparagus-spattered walls. From the edge of his hospital bed, I finally saw him unfolding in time and I could almost see him. Last night, as he nodded in his recliner, weak from the new medicine he’s taking, I knew no staff would split this rock.

 


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