Disguise of Flowers
deep, red cut on my father’s toe
needs daily bandaging.
This is the slow, impatient healing
of diabetes. Filled
a square of gauze initiates
repair. His foot
swells—hard and puffed to touch
like a pinecone and each
yellowed, brittle, and crooked
shows decay. As I
wrap the gauze,
one piece holding the first, a looser,
thicker piece webs around one toe,
the heel and then the
ankle, he tells me
of the possibility of amputation.
father’s brother Stanley died the year
kindergarten and began
to add things together, take them
At his funeral, arrangements
of white carnations
and yellow lilies
covered the lower part of the cedar casket
as if part of his body were missing, or disjointed.
at the stark balance of the halves,
I wondered if this covering were more
a disguise than
learn the true story of Stanley’s leg tonight,
dad’s unfortunate foot
twenty years afterwards:
was no illusion of separateness
at the funeral, nothing but
truly vacant places
where the legs would have been.
winter, the house erupts with a series of leaks
the upstairs bathroom. Buckets in the foyer
rainstorm that descends from the ceiling.
This has been the
pattern lately: the argument
is the same with only the slight
rearrangement of things,
such that spaces have not changed.
loosened from the wall reveals a spot of
My brothers and father work with such
their work has a scrutiny to it. There is no
between them, only goggles and fire to mask
they really are.
So precise is the mending,
safeguarding of parts, welding copper
to copper. There is
such harmony in the repair of it—
how selfless and
burden-free some things are.
the walk-in closet filled
with the stuff of living—I
one day we will have to sell the house.
meantime, closing the door
as a hatbox falls, there are no
about choosing the appropriate dress
for your mother
to be cremated in.
a schoolchild, I learned
when there is anything left over
must carry it. I’m taught to love
timpani in a slow concerto,
the echo of a lost voice,
sound, three rooms away
of a breath stopping on its last
Paying its debt, nighttime
closes its eyes and gives
to morning. I think she is sleeping,
so best let
her sleep. Keep the cat
from waking her.
recognize my mother’s hands
on the walls of our house.
These are her threads;
the threads I hold onto as I make my
always there is a path back.
first act as an orphan: I choose
the sapphire dress, the best
color I know
depicting the moon’s shadow
spirals away from the earth.