The Bookcase


All night I lay awake to owl song
five birds at the window
low and solemn.

Beneath the sheet: the body my father left behind
our hands soothe his bruised and bone-thin arms
until the warmth of the last pulse dissolves.

He turns from us
down a road wrapped in wheat
a white and endless sky.

In the hallway my hands
small replicas of his
pulse with the warmth from his wrists.

As a child I gave him my unwanted toys:
plastic lizard, Red-Eyes Blue Dragon
he pressed them between book pages.

They return to me now
every version of my father
his names penned inside crumbling covers.

If only each could lift me small and squealing again
now I cradle what remains—
pencil marks, the books’ familiar musk

each page a tomb I tend.

Jade Cho