Iím older than my father when he turned
bright gold and left his body with its used-up liver
in the Faulkner Hospital, Jamaica Plain. I donít
believe in the afterlife, donít know where he is
now his flesh has finished rotting from his long
bones in the Jewish Cemetery—he could be the only
convert under those rows and rows of headstones.
Once, washing dishes in a narrow kitchen
I heard him whistling behind me. My nape froze.
Nothing like this has happened since. But this morning
we were on a plane to Virginia together. I was 17,
pregnant and scared. Abortion was waiting,
my auntís guest bed soaked with blood, my mother
screaming—and he was saying Kids get into trouble—
Iím getting it now: this was forgiveness.
I think if heíd lived heíd have changed and grown
but what would he have made of my flood of words
after heíd said in a low voice as the plane
descended to Richmond in clean daylight
and the stewardess walked between the rows
in her neat skirt and tucked-in blouse
Donít ever tell this to anyone.