His neck sat at an odd angle to his shoulders
the swollen fingers of arthritis
gripping at every moving part of him.

(She said she stopped wearing her wedding ring
because she was scared of losing it to the jaws of the
kitchen sink)

At the short end of the dining room table
his shirt sleeves trailed through the boxed mashed potatoes,
cornbread nested in his alabaster beard.

(They hadn’t slept together in months,
the yellow rings of sickness in his eyes
were their gold wedding bands)

We made excuses to look at our father
offered him wine even though he preferred bourbon
and delivered seconds though his plate went untouched.

(The strap of his oxygen mask made lines on his scalp
as he slept, she grated bits of her fingers into his
morning oatmeal)

We ground cheap steak between our teeth
pulling bits of gristle from under our tongues
while mother ate hers 10-second-seared and bloody
leaving a pile of bones for the crows.


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