My Father Asks for One Last Thing

The New Republic

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POETRY MAY 3, 2013

My Father Asks for One Last Thing

Bending over rows of four o’clocks
now wet with evening, he picks off
dead blooms, tipping their seeds
into an envelope for next year,
though he knows he won’t be here.
Through the screen door, I smell
cut grass, wild onion, gasoline.
Under his T-shirt stained green,
his skin’s already begun to yellow
like a window shade finally ruined
by too much smoke and sun.
Gloaming is not the word for how
night shows up, draping the city sky
whose trapped sulfur and junk-light
fight off true dark. He looks up
from cleaning the mower blades,
knows I’m checking on him again.
I open the pantry, pretend to be
absorbed by the jars of tomatoes
he canned last summer, heirlooms
floating soft in the murk of time.
And when he calls my name, asking
for a massage, having asked too much
of his body today, his face is blank
and gray like the sky just before rain.

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