Miles


Let us close our eyelids and be with the milk, the smoke, the skin.  The cities a little north of here.  The ginkgo trees.  The marriage trees.  The baby's first trees.  A thing happened last night.  The release of something inside like a snip of ribbon.  I felt it where you are.  Over on your side.  Something always caught in your throat, tiny as your fingernail, slipped away without a mark or a memory.  You carry a picture of your father in your wallet.  It's your graduation and you hold a roll of paper between the two of you.  This is all you show of him.  You gave up on your father and the love of family long ago.  Now I read to you.  This is how we spend our afternoons.  I see the word impacted and I say the word placated.  You don't notice the difference.  I read to you about the different birds, the animals of the ocean, the rocks under our feet.  You picture the mourning dove's curved beak.  The swirl of a nautilus frozen in pyrite.  I read about the anatomy of the human body.  You know already the bones of the head.  There are miles between here and where we want to be.  And we can't stop thinking about the distance.  Here the pitch of sky is new.  No mountains.  Just a long stretch of sand and shale and then the ocean.  There, where we want to be, people's eyes are dark as loam.  Their fingers worn to ash.  Their toes broken.  Our families are there having dinner and talking about the things that frighten them.  A busted water heater.  The deer in the garden.  The daughters and sons who go off and forget them.  Let us stand in the in-between spaces and let's reach our arms around the father in the picture.  He's wearing his white jacket.  It is too tight across the chest.  His face is sunburned.  Stay there and let us make a new picture.  You with your father under your shoulder, the shine of your eyes.  The both of you smiling.  One of you is proud.  
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