Cleaning up my father's attic
I air my thoughts to the sky
the dust causing my chest to squeeze.
Side by side, on the windowsill
I place a ten penny nail,
double-headed with corroded shank
next to a painted replica of a bird,
a Eurasian Bee Eater or Whitethroat
with soft eyes worth a thousand worms
under the tongue.
My father was a meticulous woodworker,
an amateur ornithologist.
he spent hours in this attic,
carving and painting
what could not take flight.
And the nails.
I don't remember where he got them from
But over time, things have a way of speaking.
He left you, says the Whitethroat.
You are sad and so am I.
Who else would feed me breadcrumbs,
crusts of homebaked rye?
Now my hunger has solidified
and no one but you can hear me.
I will take my father's bearclaw hammer
one that constructed my mother's dreams
and walk to the cemetery.
There I will pull every nail from his
coffin, the very one he made.
I imagine his body decomposed
will be a hole in the sky.
And the birds that will fly out
my hands that no longer bleed
neither he nor I
ever drove a nail
into the hands
of a starving stranger
brown-eyed and bone-weary
claiming to have wings.
In his planned obsolescence,
he skirted impossible ponds,
studying his longest reflections,
his moon shape, under the sun.
There was once a woman,
Italian and high strung,
who came and went,
was keen with bitter forecasts,
tempted him into misjudging distances
and that was another story.
Later in life,
he was struck down by a flash of life
and died on the spot.
His biography, however,
written by a recluse named Holmes,
published with intended typos,
retains a loyal cult following
for reasons not clear
to lovers of hard cover books.