Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Our Father Who Art Somewhere Now, We Hope

In the first minute without him, I felt love
for what he left behind, though it was empty,
and kissed his forehead, and knew it would dissolve
with all the rest in fire and memory.

The last word he said to me was “water,”
repeated three times, and I made a joke
about what Christ got for his thirst—vinegar—
I put the wet sponge to his lips and stroked.

“Water” had been his last word. And his first?
No one is alive who might remember it.
All dying may be a process of growing thirst.
He beckoned with a curled finger at his mouth.

I felt love and said to him, “We loved you.”
Corrected myself and said it in present tense.
He believed love transcended death or used to.
He believed love was an extrasensory sense.

Meanwhile where was he, if not lying there,
still present, such a presence we all said,
his tall man’s length and breadth, his preacher’s pompadour,
his daily need to tell the world he lived.

Our father, after whom we took the world
as full of hope and promise, then, like him,
as baffling when it ignored us when we called
and needed to be found where we had hid.

Our father who art somewhere now, we hope,
although we have the proof of where he is,
divided among us, in separate memories,
and things that he loved marked by his ownership.

The minutes keep repeating, each without him,
but if eternity is outside of time,
there’s no time like the present to imagine him,
our father restored to memory and beyond.

In the rented bed in the sunlit sewing room,
a dusk rose from his open mouth and eyes.
It was our shadow cast as we crowded around him,
meeting his shadow still falling on all of us.  

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