J O H N M C K E R N A N I believe That my father In his dying Prowled the corridors Of Saint Joseph's Hospital Looking for stained glass Searching particularly For a sword of white light Next to a wide curve Of cobalt blue Those were Mary's colors & the colors Of a palomino On a high ridge Against the sky in West Omaha On that thin white sheet My father never gave up his dying He gave up the deep tan of his hands He gave up the images Of his house on Cass Street Deep in the skull under his blue eyelids Some mornings He seemed To give up his breath To the shivers When a quiet nun entered his room & Threaded a rosary about his fingers Until the silver-threaded locust beans Would slide to a white tile floor A tiny Jesus bouncing in the glow on sun-washed wax On that thin white sheet My father kept trying To leave his body on Earth He tried to leave Through the thick grooves Of those Irish toenails He tried to leave Through hidden wisdom teeth Then through two front teeth With their pain-filled
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 1, 2002
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