Oil & Steel
My father lived in a dirty dish mausoleum, watching a portable black-and-white television, reading the Encyclopedia Britannica, which he preferred to Modern Fiction. One by one, his schnauzers died of liver disease, except the one that guarded his corpse found holding a tumbler of Bushmills. "Dead is dead," he would say, an anti-preacher. I took a plaid shirt from the bedroom closet and some motor oil—my inheritance. Once, I saw him weep in a courtroom— neglected, needing nursing—this man who never showed me much affection but gave me a knack for solitude, which has been mostly useful.
Reprinted from Blackbird and Wolf © 2007 by Henri Cole, by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Learn more about FSG poets at fsgpoetry.com.
Henri Cole was born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1956 and raised in Virginia.
Date Published: 2007-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/oil-steel