Three times in the last five days the thought has come to me, while busying my hands, that my father is dead, not a question but a thing I’ve known & am now remembering, then that swallowed lightning feeling of fear in the stomach, only my father, in all likelihood is not dead, just floating like a yellowed leaf atop the standing water of his life. He wants to die, perhaps, told me so once, saying gravy saying never expected this much just hasn’t guts enough to make it happen so he leans into the workaday vices, chipping away at himself in little bits while I let what’s worst in him stand in for the whole, the shit-stained rag I rub over everything I’m afraid will hurt me. Meanwhile the days keep happening the fountains in the park getting fuller with hopeful pocket change, the leaves on the trees taking into themselves more & more copper, the voicemail box filling up, the same message each time: I didn’t want anything & I can’t do it anymore, tired of playing MacBeth at the dinner party, making everyone look at the ghosts in my eyes. I’ve wasted too much time caring & trying not to care. I’m ready to be the coolness that people throw their pocket-change hopes into, ready to feel like the flowing thing I am. Your life is a table, says my heart. The plates are being cleared, says my heart, & if you’re going to keep clutching something in your dumb fist let it be something you love. And dear readers, my heart, fat though it is with lovesickness, makes a compelling argument. I’ve got to work my way back to thankfulness. This man will be no man forever & needs to hear my voice. The sun still shines on his bald head like he’s made of nothing but chlorophyll & nectar. One day, maybe, he’ll bloom, like the porchside iris, the one that did nothing the last four seasons, then suddenly one week in July lifted a straight papery fist up into the sky, showing everything its yellow.
-- Wesley holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and his work has been published in journals such as Indiana Review, the Rumpus, Tar River Poetry Review, and Poetry Northwest. He lives in Cincinnati.