Post Immigration Pastoral
Remember the one that you loved for?
Giving away all their secrets.
Coarse gray ash
on a coarse green field.
Our father skinning
a goat or pretending to.
Forgetting that love takes
Sometimes I want to say no
I’m not finished. As a matter of fact fact
has no matter. Or truth.
Every dream is a little bit jealous
of dying. Every death
is a little relieved.
Remember the two gray trees?
Where the neighbor hung himself
in bundles of wire. And our father
was there to untether him.
For years I dreamt only
of hands. The trees stripped bare
like matchsticks. Coarse
dead body on a coarse live
body. Shouldering him
to the grass. If you could take away
the real things — the pollen sticking to our shirts,
the poplar too pretty to fit,
the lemons wanting
nothing of growing —
I wonder if our father would turn
to a dream. I wonder
who he loved for and left for. Those
widening figs in his hard polished
eyes. Do you remember
asking why he didn’t cry then? Do you
remember his steady hands?
How badly we wanted to love, in him,
some unliftable part of ourselves?
These days I ask questions badly.
These days I dream of
you moving away.
Love, I’m learning, is an act of mercy.
Love is an act
of sacrifice. Our father untangling
a jacket from a branch.