Monday, June 17, 2013

Does he know?

In the last weeks, I wonder, does my father knows he's dying,
I wonder, does he care.
I try to decipher his mood as he sits
with a wool blanket on his lap
and later in the naval hospital where his body
becomes so light the nurse carries him to bed.
I seek a name for his mood so I can dwell
on its meaning, approach it appropriately.
But as a dying man he is not much different
from the man who was not dying.
I read that EEGs of alcoholics show flattened brain
waves so I picture my father’s mind as an uneven
table top and think of what his sister says,
Francis is not a great husband, not a great father,
but he is a wonderful brother.
He is not one but three people, maybe more.
My father is funny that way.
We are all funny that way.
After his last breath, we stare down at him,
not knowing it was the last, waiting for one more
flutter, a lurch or gurgle and when none comes,
I joke to my mother, Now you can tell me he wasn’t my father.
It is mean to say it right there where my father’s skin
still gives out a bit of heat, and his mouth hangs open wide,
as if he is stunned by my hardness.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

If I opened my mouth....

My mother believes a good husband--
a man with a good job--is the foundation
of a happy life and that's why she sends me to
modeling school.
Modeling is a sport of good bones and self sacrifice,
a sport where you stride across slippery platforms
like Cinderella turned stripper, hips first, arms swaying,
shoulders square and steady.
I have to push myself to walk in those very high heels
without looking down, make my big fake smile
look natural.
 Miss McCarthy! Posture! the instructor shouts
 and I try to wobble less. Pose! she shouts, this means
with a toe turned out, not in, with chin tilted slightly,
eyes straight ahead.
Some exhilarating spirit is entering me day by day,
turning me into a girl who likes to be witty,
who didn’t want a husband but a lover,
and maybe more than one,
maybe even more than two.
But if I let all that come out,
my mother would have hit me.