As for Knowing Him
I didn’t. Neither could you imagine
just what it’s like.
My father remembers him in a dream
he recounts over breakfast. Not exactly hard,
he says, meaning his face. Lifts the spoon
to his mouth. Have you ever seen a man
with multiple sclerosis? We need more milk.
My father needs a father. Everybody who’s grown
gets to claim orphan status. It is always
another day around here. The television says two
for the price of one. The window shows a starling
considering a seed. Some people leave behind
almost everything they came with. He worked the radios,
my father says. I work the bowl of figs, the most unlucky
fruit. When anyone says In the war I am prone to tuning out.
This is widely considered to be my best quality.
The television ups the ante,
Three for the price of one. I hold my breath
for four. I like to live in infomercials, where everything
is so sincere. Meanwhile the starling has left
the seed and the window square behind.
The figs are perfectly ripe.
My father reaches for my hand
then changes direction for the cereal. As for me,
I will take everything else. How can someone be jaded
when they’ve never been rubbed by something hard.
My father has never said this to me but everything in this house
is so plush. Now comes the story of how he pushed
the wheelchair down the houseramp.
The wheelchair tipping. The other father on the ground, man
down–like. The cereal box, too,
I have never seen a man with multiple sclerosis. Forgive me,
my father says. I am just a young man again.