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Afternoon of Goodbye to His Time

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Afternoon of Goodbye to His Time

                               Afternoon of Goodbye to His Time

A picture of my father,
When he was my age now. 
He sits in his office, 
and I am somewhere far away.
He writes in his cramped handwriting,
scours the books where he thinks the truth is.
For his small lunch, he walks out of the picture, 
his body struggles home.   
The screen door collapsing behind him, 
inside the house it is hot, 
A fan stirring the cloud-heavy air. 
In the kitchen, my father eats death 
mixed like arsenic into bread,
tows himself into the den and lies down among the claws 
of ferns my mother has forgotten to water,
the springs of the orange couch pressing into the flesh
He can’t free himself of.
Interference on the TV, a listlessness of baseball.
It is summer,
nights of heat lightning.   
A lover discovers the secret babylons of flesh
behind my wet swim suit.
My father has built a chain link fence
around the Tree of Knowledge.
I am climbing it. 
In the picture, he has more hair,	
less of a belly; 
his face boyish, open.
I run past him, out the door to my lover, I’ll be home sometime, 
I don’t know when.
The small dirt beginning to fall around him.
From far away I see him now in the picture.
He doesn't speak. Just stares into the camera,
reciting Proverbs to answer the despair in his head,
books heaped around him.

If I were to call into the time of that picture,
there would be no answer, the phone ringing 
and ringing. 

Outside the locked door:
halls my father walked down long ago,
steps echoing
on an afternoon of goodbye
to his time.

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