®

Today's poem is by John Brehm

A Returning

Tonight my father's love for me
is the crowbar he places gently
in the windowsill above my head.

Always he is dreaming of some
disaster that must find me, a fire
in the basement with no way out,

and how he might give me some
strong thing to hold in my hands,
believe in and save myself with.

I have come home again, the black
cord of train drawing me back
through thirty hours of forgetting

one world and remembering another,
and now, at five a.m., as all
the miles and hours begin their

unraveling in my head, he lets
it slip and fall to gash an inch
above my eye. The blood branches

down my face, and he clutches
my head like a broken cup, lifts
me up to him, both of us

swearing softly into the darkness.
"Jesus," he says, when he feels
the blood on my face and his hands.

"Here I was making sure you'd be safe
if there was a fire, and now
I've almost put your eye out."

I see the irony in it too, though
it's painful, like waking
from a bad dream to find it's true.

He helps me wash the cut, then climbs
the stairs to leave for work,
more hurt himself than I am.

And when he's gone I ask myself
what both of us have done
in all the years I lived here

to make this accident happen.
I strike the question like a match
to set the house on fire.



Copyright © 2002 John Brehm All rights reserved
from The Way Water Moves
Flume Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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