In dim light now, his eyes straining to survey the territory: here is the country of Loss, its colony Grief; the great continent Desire and its borderland Regret; vast, unfathomable water, an archipelago—the tiny islands of Joy, untethered, set adrift. At the bottom of the map his legend and cartouche, the measures of distance, key to the symbols marking each known land. What’s missing is the traveler’s warning at the margins: a dragon— its serpentine signature—monstrous as a two-faced daughter.
Shame forces what we denied into luminosity.
In dream my father tells me my mother’s grieving
He’s projecting thoughts to a screen for me to read.
I’m at his private film of captivity.
He’s watching us. We’re hunched over heaving the sorrow vomit.
Father stands before me
time without fear suspended and apart
unafraid of anything one way or another.
“When did they cut it?” he wants to know
pushing the thought into space between my eyes.
Raising his pant leg where the mortician
smoothed and stretched the salvage skin Father used for padding
his below-knee amputation
hovering inches above the ground glints in his eyes.
He doesn’t remember the amputation
in the bending.
Father shows me his whole leg. Scars
mended and smooth.
He is an uncut body again. Like before the bending place.
Only the graft scars on his thighs remain.
He projects: “I feel my leg here Margo my foot still itches here” Father
points: “in this empty space” he twirls his fingers a slow spiral.
I nod to him: “I see. I’ll remember this for you.”