Read by Cole Ellison ’17
When your father, dying of cancer,
suddenly sits up in bed and says
Don’t you fucking do it to me
it can take your breath away.
The way the sky late winter blank,
then sacked with starlings,
leaves you stunned, groping
for a stone to put on your tongue.
See something; say something.
A bicycle with no one riding—
A joke, cruel child, uncool god
wagering the getting wrecked.
In possible realms of suffering,
a father dying is no big deal.
Even the kid who owns the bike
laughs his way to a happy life.
Not you, chasing in your earnest
galoshes, enthralled that it is
the dead pedaling, that it is
your soul perched on handlebars
singing your favorite songs,
begging the dead to pedal on
as the bike wobbles and tilts—
A red bike down a gray street
flanked with rows of forsythia.
Starling, father, whiskey, song—
In the end he wanted to be
none of these things, not even