Your Father Sunbathing

Christopher Bursk
Sundays, your father climbs out a window
            onto the roof, 
      looking for somewhere
there are no women,
            nothing else to do
      but undress,
lie down and open his arms wide,
            spread his legs
      and make an X,
a target for the sun
            to concentrate
      all its energies on,
the groin, the seat of the soul, the
            hairy, breathing sac,
      and your father
summoning all the light he can,
            his exhaustion
      heroic, a warrior's.
What if you follow, 
            quiet as the light,
beside him, intimate
            as the sun, trace his calves,
      his ankle's spidery veins, 
even his tired feet
            cocked to one side?
      Like someone blind,
you want to read the line
            of your father's jaw,
      the story of his mouth,
your mouth on his shoulders,
            his belly--lightly
      as you'd kiss a flower,
brushing your lips across
            your father's 
      penis, its taste like
petals, wet grass, wax
            candy, old dolls.
      Like women at the cross
who gather the crucified
            into their arms,
      stroking a miracle, 
not to take the wound 
      but to know
what suffering really is.
      Mary Magdelene.
It seems so natural,
            the mouth
      pressing against all
it's drawn to.

From Ovid at Fifteen by Chrisopher Bursk. Copyright © 2003 by Christopher Bursk. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.

Christopher Bursk

by this poet


Because one day I grew so bored
with Lucretius, I fell in love
with the one object that seemed to be stationary,
the sleeping kid two rows up,
the appealing squalor of his drooping socks.
While the author of De Rerum Natura was making fun
of those who fear the steep way

It didn't take a Harvard Medical School degree
to detect you and I were not lovers destined to wed
but two viruses doing their best to infect each other,
two fevers that'd spread, different symptoms of the same
sickness. Past cure I am, now reason is past care.
Did I really wish to die? The doctor