Prologue

My father doesn’t read books anymore
He doesn’t really give an explanation why
It’s just something he gave up
Just as someone would cast away an old rug, a clock, something on a countertop that visitors might glance at, touch without realizing it
while immersed in crowded kitchen chatter.

He used to be writer, a believer in folded corners
and slice of life plotlines, characters with tight-fisted secrets
that slow burn like a lantern beside the bed
He used to trace the words with his finger as he drank them in
and adjust his glasses between chapters.

It’s not something he’ll tell just anyone who wants to talk
literature. If you bring up Barth or Updike
You can see a kindling in his eyes — an understanding of cadence and transcendence and the soft curve of a liquid reflection:
Metaphors like the woods and opera and smiles across hissing summer fires.
He remembers these things like old lovers
They never quite go away.

If you recommend a book to my father he’ll politely decline. It’s not for him
— like knitting or hunting or drinking alone.
He’ll read the newspaper with a side of oatmeal and fruit, and
clear his throat when he turns the page.

When my father reads anything I’ve written
he is slow to respond, sparse with his words
But I can see his eyes glassy with a daydream:
Upon a tree of only branches,
there is a bud that begins to open up.

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