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My dad & sardines


my dad's going to give me a self
back.
i've made an altar called
The Altar for Healing the Father & Child,
& asked him what i could do
for him so he would
do nice for me. he said i should stop
saying bad things about him &, since
i've said just about everything bad
i can think of &, since ... well,
no, i change my
mind, i can't promise
him that. but even healing is
negotiable, so, if he's in
heaven (or trying
to get in), it wouldn't hurt
to be in touch. the first thing i want is to be able to
enjoy the little things againófor example, to stop peeling
down the list of things i
have to do &
enjoy this poem, enjoy how, last night, scouring
the cupboards, i found a
can of sardines that
must be five
years old &, since i was home after a long
trip &, since it was 1 a.m. & i hadn't eaten
dinner &, since there was no other
protein in the house,
i cranked it open & remembered that
my dad loved
sardinesóright before bedówith
onions & mustard. i can't get into
my dad's old heart, but i remember that look
on his face when he would
load mustard on a saltine cracker, lay a little
fish on top, & tip it with a juicy slice
of onion. then he'd look up from his soiled
fingers with one eyebrow
raised, a rakish
grin that saidóall
for me!
óas if he was
getting away
with murder.


Toi Derricotte

The Undertaker's Daughter
University of Pittsburgh Press


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