When my father swam, he was a bull
butting the waters,
or an old-fashioned washing machine
churning harder and harder.
With all that effort, you would have thought
he'd beat the high-rollers.
When my father ate, he was an octopus,
thick tendrils writhing,
or a steam shovel chewing a hill,
grunting and chomping.
Not for him the gas pump's dire warning:
When my father prayed, he prayed up a storm,
a hurricane, a tornado,
or he was that gunslinger sent
down the streets of Laredo.
Whatever my father did, he did it
like a deathblow.
When my father left, it wasn't the happily ever after
of the Brothers Grimm.
He dropped from the earth like a canyon
drops from its rim.
and not one metaphor I mixed was big enough, not nearly,
to salvage him.
by Dick Allen
Dick Allen's new book Present Vanishing is available from Sarabande books along with two previous volumes of verse.
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