Aubade with Edits

Both terrible storytellers, both bad
            With a punchline

Too, bad with a tale—short, long
            Or otherwise. Both, a little bit

Of college & plenty of experience—
            My parents. Their hands told

On them, & their cooking enough
            To keep mouths too busy

For small talk but not for lies, gold plated
            Lies. “Yes, still waiting

For Jordans or a Walkman,
            & please, no knock-offs.” “No mom,

Not the fakes.” “No, it’s not the same
            As the others, dad.”

O edits, O tweaks that transcend
            Trouble—you, neither fake

Nor fib even when half-awake in the new
            Light when parents revise stories or future

Visions so a paycheck opens
            Wider than my busy-begging

Mouth. Edits, not lies when dad dies
            Alone, broke to the bone. His version

Better than all the unforeseen costs
            Death accrues. Edits, unheard

Requests or complaints from mom’s eyes.
            Her last-month-tongue entangled,

Unable to spin or spend even a nickel’s
            Worth of lies. O Edits, sun’s up cutting

Sleep & dream with light & heat.
            I do nothing while narratives move

Along the ceiling: I’m ok. I’m ok.
            I’m ok. Soon I will tell the lie

To the mirror, to my shoes & car
            Keys, to my kiss-goodbye love,

To my needling co-workers at lunch
             Time, & the commute home again. 

A kiss hello & a kiss for baby, too
            Until back to dream

When my dead parents visit
            With new things to say.

Copyright © 2022 by F. Douglas Brown. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 14, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.