After All, the Father

Early evening in the room where the many-
months-slowly-dying father drowses in his robe, 

in his favorite chair—  She's spent long 
afternoons sorting through shelves 

and drawers; finally, he's given permission 
to jettison parts of his small galaxy of papers: 

a lifetime of work with its bills and certificates, 
prescriptions and receipts, its notes and letters. 

It's the latter that she lingers over most, creasing
and uncreasing, aching to find the missing parts 

of stories. Outside, neighborhood children scrape
the beveled road with cardboard carts; peal after peal 

echoes as they accelerate, closer to the bottom, until 
they tire of their game or get called home by their 

mothers. Windowpanes flushed with heat and light 
darken rapidly as geckos begin to scroll their call 

and response. Considering her reflection in the mirror 
and the brow as smooth and broad as his, decades later

she'll wish she'd known to acknowledge the more
important things than how, exactly, she was made.

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