Almost midnight, your sister blooms
into a bruised heart, miming
your father’s fists, recalling
how your mother just stood there

smoking. It’s not heartbreak.
Not yet. Only a teenage girl
after school using furniture
polish as deodorant. He called

me a stupid, country girl.
Said they should have left me
in Korea. The car straddles
both lanes, you just want

to get home. Do you understand
why I never called. I didn’t
hate you, but you understand.
Do you understand? Later, you hug

the hurtling bones of your sister,
not because you understand,
but remember the stray cat
on Halloween, and how you

wanted to keep him –
so you put the cat in the bag,
and grandmother made
you throw all the candy,

sticky with fur, away. Your
sister took the blame, took
the beating. And you placed
all those years, and the people

inside them, deep into the earth,
and kissed each gravestone,
and haven’t eaten a mary jane


But it’s not heartbreak
until the next day
having breakfast
with your mother
and her nurse and
there’s nothing
you can say
to get her
to remember
your name
until you show
the photo
of your father
in uniform
her in her white
gown and she calls
his name
so you call him
and put her
on the phone
and she tells him
she misses him
and when is he
going to come
and take her
away? And what
can he say except
I’m on my way
and when she passes
back the phone
it’s back
to soggy pancakes
and stale coffee
and before
he hangs up
your father asks:
your son is
going to write
about us still
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