Only twice in my life did I see
my father naked, unpeeled from his
careful clothes— once, through a keyhole:
Sunday afternoon, the bedroom door locked;
pale sheen of his thighs glistening under
my mother’s. I tried not to make a sound,
not even when one of them got up to drape
a shirt over the doorknob— a little light
goes through the weave of cloth, and the view
ripples. The second and last time, he lay
on a makeshift pallet on the hospital floor,
debris from earthquake tremors around us.
Nurses had thrown the covers back as they
went to work with paddles for the shock.
His body bore all the marks of time
passing, passed— the blueing flesh,
the wrinkled sex, thinnest vein of blood
beginning its slow trek down the side
of his mouth. Over and over, hands like doves
tried to pull him back. But he was gone,
into that sheen more inscrutable than the sun:
into the silence that let us see how hills
and orchards went on for miles, how light had
slipped off what used to robe the tender organs.
In response to Via Negativa: Felled.