I pet my father like some big cat a hunter has
set on the ground,
though I am in Iowa now and not the Great Rift
and what I sense as tent canvas flapping, thick
is cheap cotton
choked with starch.
Still, he is a lion on the gurney.
I talk a little to make sure he's dead.
I have some memory of riding his shoulders
through the fragrant night. Three fish coiled in
a creel. So many
butterflies and gnats, it was two-thirds Kenya,
And then home: the clink
of ice and gin.
And so I rub his hair, which is unwashed, and will
remain unwashed, for we will burn him.
I touch the blade of his chest.
Think of all those years I spent hovering beneath
the scent of
the mouthwash trace of booze; all that ice
cracking, going stale: crowned molars and mimic
fading to bled-out amber among the cuticles of
Maybe that's why when he so blindly flies
on that exaltation of velocity and gas,
he doesn't linger in this world awhile as word
a density we might gather round--
an aquifer, or gushing spring, as pure as gin.
Instead, he departs
Fragments of tooth and bone in the swept-out mass
throw back to dirt, or spread--a child's sugared,
And now I wonder, where's the soul in this?
The agent of it?
If it untags, retags itself--a flexible, moveable
graffiti--indelible for the time we have it,
or if it sputters on some inward cycle toward a
waste bucket, sink trap ringed with cocktail residue.
As on my returning, the trays of ice were reduced
I had a drink in my hand,
that memory of riding; the fragrant night.
How can I open the freezer now and not see the
of his passage;
the array of paw and pelt;
jaw wrenched so far open in that rictus of longing,
his living eyes could not help but tip and follow?
Copyright c 2009 by Dennis Hinrichsen. May not
be reproduced without permission.