Father Has Not Left Me in My Hours of Need

Like radon seeping invisible from the ground
and rising silently through cracks and pores,
my father haunts my house, stealthily undoing
the repairs he made in life and leaving behind tools
in unexpected places—amongst the remotes
on the recliner’s arm, at my place at the table,
in the dishwasher—which, in life, he would never do
for each had its own pegboard place or toolbox slot.
Disrepair and decay, his new devotions, happen
as if by magic, the washer once there gone
and water dripping from the faucet, joints where
white teflon plumber’s tape used to be weep water,
too, as if some ghostly wrench has loosened what I tightened
and then hid itself in my left dress shoe
in the shoe box in the back of the closet.
Light switches have quit bringing light, and my nails
and even screws are backing from walls and wood,
refusing to do their jobs, and catching clothes
or skin—like a childish call of look at me. Look!
Everything’s coming apart. The flat-screen’s picture
disappears, its power light fading like my father’s
slow wink when he’d fit a delicate glass tube
and bring radio or TV back to life,
a magician of repairs. Now late, he returns
as the holy spirit of entropy, the sly
intercessor betwixt me and daily failure,
ineptitude, and incessant purr of truth.


The Father Sitting in His Garden

He sits in his backyard watching the laundry dry,
the roses in their slow progression from green bud
to explosion of bright petals that fade and drop,
and the birds moving from tree to feeder and back—
the darting, red-headed finches, the nervous sparrows,
the bolder, louder blue jays. All remind him of her—
their wary, watchful distance, their quick heads and opaque
black eyes, their unknowable souls—a mystery
in their house for 18 years and then gone, gone, gone,
something winged and migratory that did not return
to its nest, something wild and secretive and cold.
Sitting in the morning sun, alone, he thinks himself
the shy and tear-less lizard filling itself with warmth
on the concrete near the gap beneath the rose barrel,
still but quick, alert, ready to retreat, to hide,
a streak slipping from sight to shade, leaving this world
for darkness. He thinks this morning like every morning
about disappearance and loss, flashing lizard,
skittish finch or sparrow, rose that needs deadheading,
his one and only girl, gone, pruned too soon by cancer.


Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English in Roseville, California. Now he tries writing himself what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and enjoy. He likes ice cream too much and cruciferous vegetables too little. He has had a handful of poems published in 2River View, Cobalt Review, English Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, Evening Street Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Poem, and other literary magazines.