The Flesh and the Spirit

Adam Wyeth

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.