A Boat Floats Up On The Shore With News For My Pop

My mother tells me to come from my dreamwork bed
at the back of our house to accompany my
father on one of his walks.  He is dressed in red
like a rose, his cheekbones set a little too low,
hands like carved from wood, big black eyes cruel as daggers
changed from shadow to sunshine according to lies
he told, bending his head to stuff it between hunched
shoulders.  His tight-lipped mouth with all the broken teeth
from a recent fist fight, his one silk necktie slashed
from a knife fight.  Pop's arms fall helplessly at his
sides like broken wings.  He has fallen on his face
and his Trilby hat rolls into the swift river

along whose bare brown bank we have been wandering.
He rips roots out of the ground belonging to me,
my mother, the dead and the still unborn.  Time is
not made of lasting substance so it collapses.
The infinity ends just around the corner.
Once he was far gone in a nefarious past.
Father takes a handful of the dirt of his life,
looks at it clearly, tastes it, and bends his ear
close to it to listen.  I hear it make a sound
like a foot makes on a loose board of an old floor.
A tightening of my throat in the sweet sad sense
of him, where once he could start a fire from the sparks

in his heart.  But love?  He won’t even love himself.
A boat floats up on the shore with news for my pop.
He disbelieves the sailor’s yarn and they argue.
His voice is screaming, seemingly hacked to pieces.
Movement comes to a stop. A strip of cloud pauses
over the river, then passes before I know
it has come. For a moment it feels like I have
been on the river bank by accident, fumbling
from false perspectives, watching a water flowing
with no reflection, wondering if anyone
will get into the boat which is ready to leave,
or if I should walk back home and go back to sleep.

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