Poem by Sean Brendan-Brown
The VA surgeons finished
my father with a genre of cuts.
I lit his cigarettes below scarlet keloids —
humor still in him
he wrote someday these really will kill me.
His last request was cremation
so cancer would know fire.
When it was over I took him to the place
of burning, listened to the roar of furnace.
I shook his can of ashes into Lake Michigan.
Fragrant diesel lapped them up & I prayed
“Earth, reassemble him with pig iron
bones, draw his heart in quartz.”
My father loved winter, laughed
at my ineptitude with cold’s rules —
my inability to fix, with a slap, the radio.
Today, ice closed Cedar River, ten thousand
spears rattled glass shields. If this shack had
value I’d buy my way warm.
Santa’s coming the TV warns: another sad
quarrel; trees stripped, scabrous rose petals heaped.
Expect ice dad’s radio gloats. I switch it off,
vacuum tubes exhale
heat onto the bullseyes of my palms.
The radio doesn’t speak anymore
and as Dad’s not here to fix it so it remains —
hot box tick-ticking, without news.