The door swung open. It was Dad. He was back after four hundred years.
My brothers and I were still dangling, nailed to the wall
where he left us, arms excitedly skyward at the sight of him
like we knew he wanted. He picked us up one by one and tossed us,
swung us through the air at arm’s length, letting us hang by our armpits
in his face. His mouth gaped. We reached in, curious
about the smell of the opening, convinced we could take it
in our hands. We searched inside him, and where we saw
after reeling our limbs in, a paste. We smeared it
on our heads, and from every place it touched, hair fell.
We giggled, threw the residue against the wall
and watched it drool the darkest stains. Dad used ties
to bind the hair together, not quite covering the bald patches.
He brought gifts: pacifiers for the lot of us. And those, too,
smelled like him, wherever he’d been. The last time he was here
we had chicken and a blue juice to drink. It was our first day
with big boy cups and out our mouths the juice ran
to the floor below us. He hadn’t wiped up, hadn’t cleared
the scraps of chicken and gristle before taking off.
The flies that gathered over our mouths and food waste thrived,
flying to and running over the heels of our feet, passing along
their gratitude, tickling us through the time before he came. But now
we can finally get down, our two grasping hands we curl to gripped fists
on his lower lip, stretching it to where it lets us touch ground,
but we don’t use the lip to run away from him, only wrap it over ourselves.
He’s our dad. We finally have a confidence that if he ever left again
he’d have to carry us in his mouth the way we always carry him.