A pair of shoes my father wants to walk in:
smooth soles, smooth insoles, adjustable
for feet swollen and distorted, each toe
a pink scaly balloon of hurts me.
Forty warm minutes in the warming sun,
salt air masking the scent of shame and hiding—
the need to know at odds with a desire
to close down the senses.
Two secret drops of morphine in his tea
for the everywhere pain he says he’ll weather
and the bleak depression that refuses to lift.
Night is an ocean that always arrives to rattle
and drown. In the under rustling and climbing moans
in the dangerous confusion, he sleeps
at the very mattress edge of disaster
facing the catastrophe that was taking place
with silent fascination
pillow abandoned to the bed and to the creature
whose webbed wings weight the sheets and blankets.
Back of the nightstand, the iron sedative
purchased in Chicago in 1948:
its handle inlaid with mother of pearl
its Russian-roulette rotating chamber agape.
The neoprene pouch is open too—
one bullet rolls free, resounding in the drawer.