Where the river quiets, back turned
to the sun’s eyeing, father,
father, take back your baskets of bread.
I have left your long-laid table.
Pour out the milk, father, clear the platters
of dusky fish, the potatoes
and husked corn, the halved
peaches held in two-handed goblets.
Bury the chicken bones where the dogs won’t dig
and leave the gristle to the squirrels.
Father, I have kept my swallows small.
They pull and tender against me
where the throat is warm.
I no longer see it is you
standing on the train’s platform.
One day, I will no longer remember
the story of my father at the door:
that all day he waited there looking
at the sun, that his eyes died
this way: looking too long
at the sun and the empty street,
at the sun going down and the blue
windows turning their lights out
to the sidewalk in perfect squares,
as if the soles of his feet would print
the threshold in ash, as if I would
come to sweep the doorstep.