Tuesday, July 24, 2007

About my father

Astronaut Proxy

My father would have loved these times
who once loved pointing me
to the stars
he would have seen two comets
one a smear of ice;

the Perseids and Leonids
dissatisfied with heaven
catch fire, come to earth
wheeling past years;

gathered everything he could read
to follow Galileo, Pioneer...

He would have would have
would have

All he sees now he sees
through my eyes
I take care to see everything
he would have
wanted that
how I show my son
how I show you
and show myself the heavens too

See how the shuttles fly
how they orbit
how they shatter
fall to earth as swans or stars

See how close Mars came to earth
how close then wheeled away but
he missed that too.

My father comes to me in dreams
bored sometimes, back for good
dissatisfied with heaven
fades with the dawn
but once
to nod in your direction and wink at me
as if to say,
“he's okay.”

Eden Park, Cincinnati 1967

a flock of third graders settles in the glade
it's the year of the locust-- giants in flight
their window pane wings
the ominous whirring
the gated mouth

We knew they ate nothing
after crawling from the dirt
some dead thing clutching a tree
burst open
to become something else entire
something wet and black
glistening, shuddering
in the pale sun,

then leaping away from its own corpse

Screaming girls
and squeamish boys.

I was my father's daughter.

I picked their empty bones
off the bark(their shrunken claws reluctantly give)
and stuck them to my sweater like brooches.

Now no one could touch me.

In Medias Res

When I was born
my father often told me, he hated the doctor
for whipping off my crib blanket
to show my parents I was a girl:
He should have had more respect for women.

I don't remember that of course
though I think I remember
my mothers knees dropping away
below me as I rose
aloft by my ankles
into the cold yellow world.

I remembered it for a long time, you know.
I just didn't realize that's what I'd seen.
Mostly other things (the curved top of old ice crusher, a cartoon whale's head) reminded me of a shape
that turned out to be the shape of the tops
of her bent knees past the edge of the world.

My father I remember first
sitting by while I fingered the piping of a chair
watching me pull myself up
with an astronaut's ecstatic focus
exploring this new world
where walking existed.

Years later the
baby whose genitalia he'd defended
would be crouched over him in a nightgown

pounding his heart
counting and begging
knowing that we wanted opposite ends
to our last moments alive together.
funny what comes out of our mouths
when we're not paying attention.

Later, the doctor took us in
to show us the body
his mouth gaping like any dead animal
it wasn't the animal I wanted.
We can only relight one candle
so many times.

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