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My Dead Father Surveys the Patterns


ISSUE:  Spring 1997

He never was much for sewing, but my dead father
is back for an instant at the yard sale. He rummages
through a box of old patterns stacked like corpses.
He tosses them over his skinny shoulder into the yard.
What is he after? What’s so important down there
at the bottom of the box? Some old lady stored
these patterns in the late fifties, placed the box
on a shelf and left it. She never pulled it down
until today when we all showed up, my dead father
briefly among us, looking for a bargain like the living.

Now he’s found it, a brown paper padding the bottom.
He’s reading the old news in the yard like he’s bored.
November 15th, 1959, my father reads. It’s the day
he’s killed himself, back then. He shows me the article.
It’s the pattern he wants to take back with him. It’s all
he came back for. He offers the lady a quarter for the paper,
but she doesn’t hear, and my dead father is gone.

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