April 9, 2014

Priscilla Atkins

Á la Recherche de Mon Père

My father picks up his bow tie
from the top of his briefcase
that has rested all night
on the piano’s black wing.
The air above my head flutters
as he clips it on,
tucks the mystery of chemistry
under his arm.
Two enormous brown oxfords
cross the carpet to the kitchen
in three steps.
Mother and he exchange
the ritual kiss;
there is also a small bag
of cookies and fruit.
Then he’s in the entryway—
his hand unlocking the gold knob
with one twist,
turning the handle on the screen door,
his legs transporting him down
the gray porch steps,
the front walk, the cement stairs
onto the sidewalk—in moments
disappearing past the low branches
of the Norwegian pine, and still
the house holds his presence,
it breathes in and in, as if it would suck him
then, just before bursting,
it slowly exhales: the little hand
is between 7 and 8,
the big hand blue, the hour amber.

Priscilla Atkins, raised in the wilds of East Central Illinois, attended college in Massachusetts, taught in Los Angeles, and lived in Hawaii for ten years. Her collection, The Café of Our Departure (Sibling Rivalry Press), will be out in spring 2015.

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