My Father Pretends to be a Ghost
Stormy nights he arrives sometimes
sallow and sunken-faced from dehydration
the way he was at the end, a skull’s head,
his chest split with only a strip of bloodied tape
to stop his insides from slopping out.
This is the ghost of his body, I think,
so loathsome and loved at once.
I turn away, I fear he will see me seeing him
this way, and I do not want to witness
his tragic embarrassment, that he, my father
who hated the macabre and believed only
in the sanctified dead, whose new bodies arise perfect
and light, has somehow not become one of them.
Most nights, though, he is more himself. We argue
because he is driving the wrong way and has forgotten
the tickets. Almost always I am furious.
A rare good night, we make it all the way to the store
where he can’t believe the prices but helps anyway.
Every night it will come though, that moment
when at last he unbuttons his shirt to show me
the long puckered seam, explaining how,
when it finally opens, he will step clear of the skin.
Dead Fathers at the Running of the Bulls
If you’re gored
by your dead
to a hospital
where your dead
not visit you.
You must turn
and slay your
and all the dead
the same but
it won’t work
if you kill
it has to be
Do I even
have to tell you
My Father as the Risen Savior with Thomas
Too long later
you appear bodily
in the kitchen
of the old house
looking well slept.
I insist on seeing
and the wound
and you are kind
about this because I,
in the end, am
the one who was
most like you.
But none of that will
matter much longer
as you are going
to a place that I
cannot follow you
and you cannot
I have seen
so I believe
though it’s amazing
how little it matters
to the story
what I believe.