Writing About My Father, Day 10

In graduate school, I read a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez about an old man who has enormous wings growing out of his back. Shortly after reading this story, I co-opted that image, and in my poems, it’s come to represent my father and his infidelities, the wings always on the verge of erupting. Not surprisingly the image has shown up again in the new series I’m working on to figure out what the heck I actually think about love. Here are two poems—one about my Dad, and one about the man I hope I get to marry some day.

The Rising

I wanted to find the bird that had cracked and clawed its way from my father’s back.

I wanted to find the bird that had planted its wing in my father’s back like a sticky benediction.

The birds kept gathering long into winter. I shouted, Why can’t you keep to your season?

Fooled by tricks of light, I always believe things are what they should be.

I am not the type to recognize the poison ivy or the mockingbird.

Sometimes I said, Yes, Daddy. Sometimes I pelted the birds with the small flat stones weighting my eyes.

By the time my father found his last words, his beak had grown too small to shout them.

By this time my father had grown so small that I would often lose him in my pocket for days and years.

The bird too witches flight from air and longing.

The forest of wings is growing very large. Am I growing smaller still or staying just the same? Am I bird and do not know it?

The women gathered. The priests were gone and the temple was bitter with corpses. Still the women gathered. Still the women wrenched the heads from the doves in the traditional way. I wonder if the birds wept.

I am waiting for the bird buried…

I am waiting for the bird buried
between breast and bone to erupt,
like my father’s. Each woman
a tiny crack in the fleshy jail.
Each scrape of claws a pain
he called new love, his true
heart husbanded as he waited
for witchy wings to dry,
whispers of flight to fruit.
I am waiting for the bird buried
between your breast, your bone
to erupt. It arrives—
neck snapped plunging
from your bloodied mouth
to my bloodied lap.

Posted on November 12, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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