“Drifting” by Michael J. Grabell

Michael J. Grabell


And doesn’t raw chicken breast always
look like South America—or Africa,
depending what side you slice from?
When I was little, I thought I saw
my dead father

                                    smoking a pipe
in the wood-grain paneling
of our living room, his black eyes
unremorseful, forgiving.
Should I have thought it a sign—
an old man

                                    trying to connect with me?
Is it much different than sensing
despair in the avocados as “Feliz
Navidad” played in the produce section
or finding hope in the outline of a woman’s
dress? I don’t see what I want to see.
I see what I have

                                    to see—faith
in a salt stain under a bridge. I laugh
at wakes because there is nothing
to crying. I began to see myself
in third person, the hardened pride of
putting out of mind my compulsion
to see you in an airport,
hear you say

                                    let me buy you a drink, son.
Tomorrow I will visit your grave
for the first time in nine years, the place
where at five, I traced the letters of your name.
I have tried so hard to imagine the concrete
again after seeing the abstract beneath.
The chicken breast

                                    is tasty.
Avocados are avocados. I say there is no hope
in a woman’s dress, but believe me,
it is there.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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