Another boy thinks his father
dies each time he leaves home.
Comes back a bony apparition
on ESPN, long-eared effigy
crucified in The Sun-Times.
Another boy traces his father’s
road trip, map in hand, before bed,
whispering there he is, there he is.
Down the hall his mother’s door
is a puzzle of bolts and latches.
Down the hall his brother
ices the bones in his right hand.
It’s 1986. All the runaway fathers
are home for Christmas, proof
they can die again. There I am under
the skylight watching the tallest
prophet ever to rise above the pines.
Mom, I say, I’m a prophet too,
and with a bandaged finger
score a comet’s tail through the air
and flap flap my sparrowhawk
flight to bed. One day my father
went upstairs into his own world.
Another boy would have asked
God to hurry his angels. Another
boy would have wound up a man
too soon, no soft atonement
to warm his throat again. I was
not a prophet. I was so many
boys calling from the depths
of fat green shrubs, throat-bones
chiseled by a running silence.
When I cracked the door to my
father’s room—his face vanishing
on TV—I thought, you must be
dying, I have never seen you die.