The night before my father died
he looked like a rabid dog
with the shit kicked out of him.
His convexed ribs poked through
the sheets, his sagging torso
a sack of rotten potatoes.
I looked down at the vandalized frame
of his life and stared into the dried-up well
of his eyes, saying his name,
waiting for an echo. I put my ear
to the dusty keyhole of his mouth,
only the shadow of a shallow whisper
stirred in the webbed chamber.
His skin was peeling off
like flakes of plaster.
Half-buried like a child peering out
from the rubble of a war zone.
I took his hand, light as a bird,
and held it in my palm,
kissing the skin that made me,
I licked the flake off my lip
letting it melt on my tongue.
The flesh and the spirit.
Then he spoke to me for the first time.