Killing the Father

His last breath hung in the air
like frost holding the room still.
The pudding-thick phelgm, I pulled
from his mouth, fell from my fingers
like ice almost melting.
And still he comes:
a face rises
to melt and tatter
as if hot glass
blown by wind.
It remains Christmas.
His arm stilled by stroke
lies across the starched
tablecloth, a tombstone
tumbled into snow.
The tree’s lights blink
unfocused.  He stares, waits.
The room is cold.
I wait in the corner.
Spittle fails to lash his lips
as he opens his mouth to speak;
his face blurs, shifts like lava.
A rumble swells his throat,
pushes up to his mouth,
twists across his tongue
to erupt past teeth
gnarled like fingers.
Unlike a shout.
(Summer 1990, Bread Loaf)

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