The last memory I have of him is this:
the body that used to be my father
laying in the box my mother chose the day before
right angles everywhere
a square burgundy room, an oblong box
rigid people standing like obelisks - orderly
controlled, whispering and squeezing hands
eyes tightly swollen like port-holes
on a sinking ship, and heavy curtains
solemn and straight as a Sunday morning sermon
Some numbers are sacred. For me, it is seven
the age of my body the year of his sickness:
A new, green shoot sprouting into long
thin legs and arms. Breathing, reaching
while my father's body spent the same year
wilting, his rice paper skin fading to paler
and paler shades of yellow gray
like a neglected photograph
My lover is nearly fifty
seven years older than my father's total.
His hands are hot with life like grass
beneath the sun, the pores of his skin
pull and release his breath.
Every hair on his body curls at my touch, gives way
leans toward me, meets me halfway.
I listen to his chest at night.
It rumbles and beats, speaking in
foreign languages I am coming to learn.
I know the vocabulary of his lungs, the grammar of
his heart, the pronunciation of his stomach
and his bones. I love the slick, red-blue blood
pounding through his veins
how fierce and determined it is to pump and push.
Even so, I know this:
as much as I love his blood, I could hate it
if it were to give up, stop cold
thicken into red-black coagulating puddles
drawing away from his feet and hands
falling into the pool of his torso like water
spiraling down the bathtub drain. I would hate it
as strongly as I love it.
Hate it like I hate my father's blood for giving up.
At seven, I didn't know about embalming.
I only knew my father's skin was false and flat
his body solid with death in that mahogany box
his pink, blushing spirit uprooted, tossed out
the power of his blood to keep him here, gone.