He’s watching football
on a dog-eaten sofa, sharing a salad
with a parrot green as spirulina.
“She’s family,” he says and grins.
I was away for a decade or more
and come home round as a fish bowl.
He is my father, a stranger with my teeth,
jagged bone-white peaks. Eight visible blades
of a smile; eight flames of the menorah.
His mouth of Baltic succinite, our marrow-
rich blood-bond. I was born late in his life,
a slippery pearl on the half-shell
of his sweetheart: poor girl didn’t see it coming.
Couldn’t know how to keep a man sane.
A hole in the wall sprouts frayed petals
of newspaper, the kitchen hums with the buzz
of aging appliances and bugs.
He has my hand, small claw of dollars
for the baby. For the baby. He says, “I knew you then.”
The floor is littered with couch foam.
Somewhere a happy dog sleeps.
This is the man who feeds.
The green bird chews,
eyes sharp jade shards stuck in her head.
Jurassic creature, she tastes the sour milk
swell in my chest. Licks the oil
from my father’s plate with
deliberate, selfish strokes.