by Rich Ives
The illness sat in a chair beside my father
and listened to us not talking.
They weren’t much more than ideas I had offered,
and father ran them off.
He knew one direction got you there
and walked into the water as into the night
and knew how far and arrived at
the next dark possibility.
He kept going and needed no one,
but I carried my family inside the fear
that never left me.
I lived in the cowl of a rooster
and only came out to whisper the light home.
I devoted myself to cubicles and birch leaves, undercover.
It lisps a bedtime story.
It doesn’t take long to live there.
I woke up to see what was still there, and it wasn’t everything.
I can’t listen, but I do.