Jesus, with his cup

The barber, with his mug of warm foam, his badger-hair brush.

My mother and sister and me and the dog, leashed with a measure
of anchor rope, in the hospital parking lot, waving good-bye
to my father from his window on the 7th floor.

Just him and his tumor, rare as the Hope Diamond,
and his flimsy paper cup half-filled with infirmary water.

The lump in my throat, a tea party cup left in the garage all winter,
holding the silver body and wing dust of a dead moth.

The barber, sweeping the day’s worth of hair into the basement,
remembering how he’d traveled to Memorial
to lather the face of the dying man and shave him smooth
in his raised hospital bed and sometimes he shaved the faces
of the dead as a favor to the mortician.

Wondering how this particular life was the life that had been chosen for him.

The barber, walking home in the dark
to a late supper of torn bread in a cup of heavy cream.

Even the mayor’s wife sipping from a teacup
wreathed in Banded Peacock butterflies wonders, in her loneliness,
why me? Why this cup?

Diane Seuss, "Jesus, with his cup" from Four-Legged Girl. Copyright © 2015 by Diane Seuss. Used with permission of Graywolf Press,