I Carried My Father Across the Sea

1.
I Carried My Father Across the Sea

He was a child. He was dead.
He was the shaft of a Long-tailed Astrapia. He was a forest


of bruise. He wore a door on his face.
He wore the black suit


of his wedding. The square pocket
was still full of his vows.


He was light to carry,
his burdens and vows had bled out of him.


He was heavy
with the responsibility of the dead.


What sort of a son
leaves his father


chained to fatherhood?
I lifted and propped him up with my frame.


I measured the length of him with my length.
The feet stuck in sea sand, his weak knees,


his arms gripped my sides.
As the currents rose, the collar on his broken neck


flared into a float.
The gash the surgeon’s knife left on his head


became a halo, it signaled in the dark.
I put my nose to his nose.


I put my finger in his mouth.
I tied his IV tubes, now a human gill, around our waists


and swam in the vein
of the water.


“Look,” a sphinx in the waves said,
“A son carries a father.”


Death is not silence.
It is where I hear you most clearly.


What sort of a son
leaves his father’s body


chained to the dark grievance inside the earth?
I carried my father on my back.


I felt the bracing inside his afterlife heart
on the skin of my spine.


He wore his face as a door
he promised to open to me.


He bled
out his vows.


2.
Vows
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