Alexandra Naparstek

What Came After

This morning, I find clumps of hair and bow
before the doctors’ scale. She prescribes
more of this,    less that,
maybe you need to switch
again, maybe you’ll feel better
.             Instead,

I see my father’s face plainly:
ashen, yellow-stain teeth,
deflated, covered from his crinkled shoulder
to withered feet.
I see him
next to my bed,
the passenger seat of our car,
he who won’t leave.

My mother reminds me
how ashen I look, how yellow my teeth
have become, my shrunken body.
           And I see him die again. He stumbles
           in room 322, his bird body staggering—
           a flat bed, blood crusts within his nostrils,
           a breathing tube molests his throat—
           the hunch reminding us

When Water Becomes Still

I forgot how to count the days since
water stopped, since my father
calcified and I shriveled. What mass
breaks a heart more than loss? I clean
his house, look through coat pockets, &
learn his life through mementos with fingerprints
coated in dirt, sweat, grease, love,
so much love. I’m tired of the thoughts
about his body, decayed, before me.
We’ve become somber, I’ve become thin,
while we celebrate his reign through scraps,
jokes, photographs. It’s been two weeks
since my father left me.
I’ve begun to forget him.

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