May 31, 2013

Angelo Verga

MY FATHER LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME,
HE GETS DOWN ON HIS KNEES AND HUGS ME

My father hugs me, and sweats
we go down one step
      at a time
face to face, neck to neck

My hands under his arms
my left foot
      then my right foot down
my face rests on his chest
then his right leg drifts, descends
the foot hesitant, his face clenched

A long rest, and then, his left floats
joins its best friend and
      his face softens, less tense

One step of the twelve-step staircase done

Five minutes later we’ve bottomed
      This is fun, I say
We look gay, he frowns, out of breath
and we both laugh, till his eyes grow wet

The two doors, inner and outer
are easier, but slow

Outside we try another dance
he holds the banister with one hand
my shoulder with his other
I have one hand halfway
      around his titanic belly
and the other free, if he
should begin to let go or fall

The car in the driveway with its small
unlocked door seems far away

How am I going to get in? he asks
Ass first; then one leg at a time
And slow, slow, dad, we’ve got no deadline
Eleven o ‘clock, he corrects
The doctor can’t start without us, pop, no sweat

But I am wrong, his shirt is drenched wet,
His thin hair matted, and flat

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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