Father replays the funeral in Dream #28

Shame             forces                        what we denied         into luminosity.
In dream       my father     tells me               my mother’s grieving      
prevents          momentum.

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.”


Copyright © 2019 by Margo Tamez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“My father, Luis Carrasco Tamez, Jr., (1935-1996), visited me in dreams between November 1996 and September 2001. Lingering memories of what he said pressured me to (re)visit intimate familial places in Lipan Apache (Ndé) homelands, in South Texas, where he appeared. His spatial time-bending emplaced a pictorial language, helping me decipher historical violence felt by Ndé of Texas, and lingering impacts of historical trauma which saturate Ndé storied landscapes continually obscured by aggressive settler colonial erasure. Spirit memory as sentience, landguage, place, despair—the collective internalization of Indigenous spatial exile—influence my understanding of my father’s refusal. This poem, echoing post-memory of Ndé intergenerational genocide survivors, explores how historical memory of violence disturbs linear structures which have denied Indigenous peoples’ our lived experiences—even after death.”
Margo Tamez