Today's poem is by Jesse Lee Kercheval

I Open Your Death Like a Book

I shall not die twice, Father, but I'll make you do it.

Pick up the scissors and cut your shirt away,
cutting into skin, pink as a burn,
then chest, that cave of shade striped gray,

until I find your heart, shy girl in corsets,
sad blue satchel,
only beating pow-wow now and then.

That's the beauty and the pity.
Your heart a crooked time-clock like your father's,
a box bomb strapped into your chest.

Now a change of venue. Put your clothes on, Father, please.

I put you in a hammock.
Me, your blue-eyed infant, beside you on the floor.
I was born to be there watching

when no one else was looking.
To see your arm go crooked,
see you fall asleep and not wake up.

To hear in flocking crows,
the wings of seraphim. In thunder,
your heart, that angel, bursting.

But children grow bored waiting even for disaster.
Get big, go to college,
send a postcard now and then.

What's a girl to do with a father
who is always dying, but make you into poems,
eat you like a deer I raised by hand?

Think of death, then, as an open season.

In the world outside, apples are falling,
people dying every day. Now in the house
where I grew up, a window darkens,

you pick up the phone to call me,
dial long distance. And answering,
I hear you die a thousand miles away.

Copyright © 2004 Jesse Lee Kercheval All rights reserved
from Dog Angel
University of Pittsburgh Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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