To dislodge matter sludged
in the airways or lungs, or
at the base of the throat:
wracked sounds bring up thick
phlegm. On good days, clear:
only foamy spittle not tinged
with blood or trace of bile.
I stood unbidden at the second
floor window that overlooked
the bathroom as my father,
in the slow months leading
to his death, bent over the sink
—thinning hair plastered down
in the shape of an acolyte’s cap.

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