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A Small Red Star for Me and My Father

This appointment came when light tired, this arrangement, this syzygy
   of him and me and the still threat of a small red star standing
      some time away at my back, deeper than a grain of memory.
I am a quarter mile from him, hard upward on this rugged rock he could
   look up to if only his eyes would agree once more, and itís a trillion
      years behind my head or a parsec I canít begin to imagine,
they tell me even dead perhaps, that star. Can this be a true syzygy
   if one is dead, if one is leaning to leave this line of sight
      regardless of age or love or density or how the last piece of light
might be reflected, or refused, if one leaves this imposition? The windows
   of his room defer no light to this night, for it is always night there,
      blood and chemicals at warfare, nerve gone, the main one
providing mirror and lethal lens, back of the eyeball no different
   than out front, but I climb this rock to line up with another rock and him
      in the deep seizure of that stolen room, bare sepulcher,
that grotto of mind.

Today I bathed him, the chest like an old model, boned but collapsible,
   forgotten in a Detroit back room, a shelf, a deep closet, waiting
      to be crushed at the final blow, skin of the organ but a veneer
of fatigue, the arms pried as from a childís drawing, the one less formidable
   leg, the small testes hanging their forgotten-glove residuum,
      which had begun this syzygy, the face closing down on bone
as if a promise had been made toward an immaculately thin retrieval,
   and, at the other imaginable end of him, the one foot bloody
      from his curse, soured yet holier in mimicry of the near-Christ
(from Golgotha brought down and put to bed, after god and my father
   there are no divinities), toenails coming on a darkness no sky owned,
      foot bottom at its own blood bath, at war, at the final and resolute war
with no winner.

Oh, Christ, heís had such wars, outer and inner, that even my hand
   in warmth must overcome, and he gums his gums and shakes his head
      and says, sideways, mouth screwed into his outlandish grin,
as much a lie as any look, as devious, cold-fact true, ďI used to do this for you,Ē
   the dark eyes hungry to remember, to bring back one moment
      of all those times to this time; and I cannot feel his hand linger on me,
not its calluses gone the way of flesh or its nails thicker now than they
   ever were meant to be, or skin flaking in the silence of its dust-borne battle,
      though we are both younger than the star thatís behind us
and dead perhaps, as said; then, in a moment, and only for a moment,
   as if all is ciphered for me and cut away, I know the failure
      of that small red star, its distillation and spend still undone,
its yawn red as yet and here with us on the endless line only bent
   by my imagination, the dead and dying taking up both ends of me,
      neither one a shadow yet but all shadows in one, perhaps
a sort of harmless violence sighting here across an endless known.


Copyright © 2003 Tom Sheehan


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