by Shannon Castleton
With the lump in his back there’s more
to think about. My father, still
in a wicker lawn chair, scans his aspens
and thinks of morning—of the smooth blade
opening his new scar for the second time in May.
When I visit like this, he corners me with endings, says he's ten years past the age his father reached when a '62 Chevy split him wide against a blunt curb. Two days later the town mortician, tonic-haired and grey-suited, shook my sixteen- year-old father's hand. He said,
"We almost couldn't view your dad he was torn so bad, But I wrapped his side with the same stuff the ladies save Sunday dinner in. Some days all you can do is keep these bodies together." Of course my father has become the mortician, Each time he performs him the last words change. Tonight it was blood, the thin wrap seeping, and, "The inside always wants out." Later, viewing my father from the sliding glass door, I know the mortician is who he believes. Even with my mother, brown-legged and deep in her tomatoes, fuchsia nodding from their pots on the deck, promising love in each round flower, he dreams his way out. Lips straight, a long finger circling the chilled rim of a juice glass, he eyes this yard till dar., When he creeps to the house I can't tell his arms from the warm, rich black.