Visitations

Ryan Teitman

I wanted to be
a saint: to hold
two candles crossed

against my father’s
throat, like a pair
of open scissors,

to cure his cough.
In my dream,
he spoke a language

with no words
for praise. His throat
was an empty quiver;

he wore the silence
like a paper robe.
He wanted to be

a bird: to hollow
out his bones until
they were lighter

than mint. Now,
I am my father’s
ghost, sleeping

in my father’s bed.
I pass the hours
in the rut his body

left behind. His dreams,
small as chess pieces,
visit me each night.

They ask me when
he’s coming back.
I bat them away,

as if they were flies.
I haven’t figured out
how to kill them yet.

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