I’m older than my father when he turned bright gold and left his body with its used-up liver in the Faulkner Hospital, Jamaica Plain. I don’t believe in the afterlife, don’t know where he is now his flesh has finished rotting from his long bones in the Jewish Cemetery—he could be the only convert under those rows and rows of headstones. Once, washing dishes in a narrow kitchen I heard him whistling behind me. My nape froze. Nothing like this has happened since. But this morning we were on a plane to Virginia together. I was 17, pregnant and scared. Abortion was waiting, my aunt’s guest bed soaked with blood, my mother screaming—and he was saying Kids get into trouble— I’m getting it now: this was forgiveness. I think if he’d lived he’d have changed and grown but what would he have made of my flood of words after he’d said in a low voice as the plane descended to Richmond in clean daylight and the stewardess walked between the rows in her neat skirt and tucked-in blouse Don’t ever tell this to anyone.
A four-armed flutist took me
to the blue avatar: stone-blue
monkey, whiskers silver,
broken beads silver–
paint dashed by the artist on cheap paper.
Bought for a few annas, God
kneels, looks left. Intense concentration.
His ink hands rip open his chest,
pull skin aside like a velvet curtain–
Rama and Sita alive
at his core. And what devotion shall
my flesh show, and my broken-open breast.
His blueblack tail flicks upward, its dark
tip a paintbrush loaded blue.