My Father’s First Steak (poem)
This being born will go two ways.
You were halfway through when I arose,
and now I’m at the point where you decline
to say if the meal is any good,
the way a baby passes up some pea puree.
Tonight I’ll pat the fat with Sichuan
and salt and time the slab with silent nurturing.
I will try to paint your tongue with something bright,
with extra haleb, and I will chop to little chunks
so that your teeth can rake the pink and grease,
and later I will guard your ash with a poem you wrote
when your final child fell into your lap.
“Timothy,” with a colored tone betraying Parkinson’s flat gray,
“You have strange taste”—and now I know
those are the fraternal twins in your back crying out
in the neonatal ward of the body.
I will remember how you always loved my cooking,
said I should open up a restaurant,
that you’d be the funder had you the money.
I will know that something inside you is shutting off the lights,
room by room, slow among diseases,
to let us slip in for a quick visitation.
Here between red wine and last stories,
we swirl the great bardo.
In that between, my only meal
is thank you, thank you, thank you
as you go out, & I—
I’ll hold down the fort.