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Sunday, November 13, 2011

my dad loved sardines—right before bed

My dad & sardines

my dad's going to give me a self 
i've made an altar called 
The Altar for Healing the Father & Child
& asked him what i could do 
for him so he would 
do nice for me. he said i should stop 
saying bad things about him &, since 
i've said just about everything bad 
i can think of &, since ... well, 
no, i change my 
mind, i can't promise 
him that. but even healing is 
negotiable, so, if he's in 
heaven (or trying 
to get in), it wouldn't hurt 
to be in touch. the first thing i want is to be able to 
enjoy the little things again—for example, to stop peeling 
down the list of things i 
have to do & 
enjoy this poem, enjoy how, last night, scouring 
the cupboards, i found a 
can of sardines that 
must be five 
years old &, since i was home after a long 
trip &, since it was 1 a.m. & i hadn't eaten 
dinner &, since there was no other 
protein in the house, 
i cranked it open & remembered that 
my dad loved 
sardines—right before bed—with 
onions & mustard. i can't get into 
my dad's old heart, but i remember that look 
on his face when he would 
load mustard on a saltine cracker, lay a little 
fish on top, & tip it with a juicy slice 
of onion. then he'd look up from his soiled 
fingers with one eyebrow 
raised, a rakish 
grin that said—all 
for me!
—as if he was 
getting away 
with murder.


The Undertaker's Daughter 
University of Pittsburgh Press

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