What is important
is your face, struck
with thought, distracted, as the letters
rubbed from the newspaper onto my hand.
I printed during breakfast
hand to face, face to hand, blurred
like my intentions, and eager
after all, to remember. How
I could gaze on you.
As he carried
down the stairs I opened
my eyes and saw fire.
All the bridges of these years burning.
He did not
look at me,
took each step sweating,
his hair touched, then full of light
like when running
at night the headlights
crept up his back and held.
Jim, the light
light never appeared in your hair
as in the radical angels of my memory.
Yet you could uncode the poem of the burning stairs.
easy; all your poems
are about your father, you said,
laughing, but still touched
my face sadly as you did.
He has lived,
a stranger, in our house,
the reflection of his fire in my eyes
wavering, unreasoning, as I demanded
so many things from you. How are you certain now
you know what you're doing? That you are on course?
shifts under us like a ship
that moves under unmoving stars. The wheel
is all we could take as we leave homeless
burned and built again.
2River View, 3_3 (Spring 1999)