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My Father’s Flesh

ISSUE:  Spring 1989
I know the things I know:
my father’s flesh will not
keep him warm much longer.
He cannot say why
he hates it.

The worms are
working their way to his heart.
Every day there are more of them
inside him. They enter
his white arms and leave
their red tracks.

Their red tracks
scorch me when I go to hug him
and a black mouth ruptures
on my forehead. It
will not stop laughing.
I cannot find my hat.
Worms. Mouth. Scorch.

I cannot find my hat.
The mouth laughs and laughs—
uncontrollable as a dog
barking at a fire. I say
“love.” The mouth snarls
“fool.” I say “but love,
love.” My father watches.

For all I can say
I am just a woman
on fire. My father’s flesh
cannot keep him warm
enough. I cannot say why
he hates it but I know
the things I know: I am
just a woman, burning.


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