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despite my efforts even my prayers have turned into threats :: kaveh akbar

by on August 21, 2018

Holy father I can’t pretend
I’m not afraid to see you again
but I’ll say that when the time
comes I believe my courage
will expand like a sponge
cowboy in water. My earth-
father was far braver than me — 
coming to America he knew
no English save Rolling Stones
lyrics and how to say thanks
God
. Will his goodness roll
over to my tab and if yes, how
soon? I’m sorry for neglecting
your myriad signs, which seem
obvious now as a hawk’s head
on an empty plate. I keep waking
up at the bottom of swimming
pools, the water reflecting
whatever I miss most: whiskey-
glass, pill bottles, my mother’s
oleander, which was sweet
and evergreen but toxic in all
its parts. I know it was silly
to keep what I kept from you;
you’ve always been so charmed
by my weaknesses. I just figured
you were becoming fed up with
all your making, like a virtuoso
trying not to smash apart her
flute onstage. Plus, my sins
were practically devotional:
two peaches stolen from
a bodega, which were so sweet
I savored even the bits I flossed
out my teeth. I know it’s
no excuse, but even thinking
about them now I’m drooling.
Consider the night I spent reading
another man’s lover the Dream
Songs
in bed — we made it to
“a green living / drops
limply” before we were
tangled into each other, cat
still sleeping at our feet. Allow
me these treasures, Lord.
Time will break what doesn’t
bend — even time. Even you.

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