Alyssa Moore

JUST LIKE DAD

dad is so old but there’s nothing wrong
with him. we jump on his mattress
trick-tie his shoelaces

yo-yo his spirit just like he’s any old dad but he never gets up from the La-Z-Boy to re-disciple us

our laissez-faire father. fiery father. father of
drained fish bowls     flood     catheters     PG faith-
flick peril     jaundice. he made us

keep our heads lifted up & in his
old age, we make sure he does
too—peel forward his ears to pack more wine

soaked cotton balls and cracker dust
into the cranium. that close you can definitely
smell a bouquet of bleach & mildew

but why linger?  if something’s wrong

with dad, it’s really just someone else’s
problems casing the doggy door

dad’s the debutante & the
chauffeur.
the prom king in a lemon
linen suit          we used to revival him & drag him round the strip mall

& that’s how we made chump change—

$20 for a peep at his runway-ready chompers;
only a mustard seed to have him
wheeze peace into your neck. kept swinging

that racket until the year one of us tried to balance
a stuffed ram on dad’s lap & tripped
over the IV that promoted his complexion

he took on a minty sheen & when he bounced
back the doctor said one of his seconds now
equaled a thousand of our own

& that’s a show that’d clatter soon as hit the road

dad’s so old sometimes I wonder if he ever gets tired
of lemon & beet soup; of seeing every one, thing
as if totally new, but he’s real
jovial about it, remembers when he loved
just the one woman & didn’t think
he’d live long enough to pat her son
on the head. when dad tells this story we sob
with laughter so loud

I think there’s a cool billion of us clenching our high-necked blouses

in the kitchen. dad’s a better dad than me
he’s at the point of loving everyone
equivalently—though we’re certain
because we maintain him he loves us more—

  everyone’s expecting something from dad. we can feel it

I used to think he could too but when we ask him what’s next
he points to the white-skirted lady flaying
fish on tv. if we persist, he tells us to quiet

our voices so the neighbors won’t afflict us

with lemon casserole
but I know though he’s got something good
planned. when he thinks we’re sleep

I see him sneak onto the porch
take a few steps onto the lawn
his chest heaving with effort

but no one believes me
because by the morning he’s back in the chair
so comfortable & still
like he’s been waiting millennia for us to find him


ALYSSA MOORE is a poet and visual artist with degrees from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Harvard. Her work appears in Boston Review, Hyperallergic, Poetry, and Tagvverk.


Issue Six
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