father working 

we all take plates 
& pile them with meat: lamb, turkey,
alligator, moon, stirrup.
father in his hollow whittling
down the ache. all alone 
he does what he has to keep
all of us tip-toeing. brings the elbows 
to the end. swings his real axe 
at the head of every tuesday.
outside we gather what we can.
keep him fed like good sons.
kill earwigs & ethers. harvest
lightbulbs for their eyelashes. 
in the meantime, while father hunches,
practice our beards in the mirror
then shave them off so he knows
we aren't serious about being men. 
sweep his cicada shells
from the entrance. he lives
in a great dig. earth mouth-gaping.
we spit our spare teeth into the trash.
inspect each other's violets
for blight. winter is coming &
father will soon want more from us:
songs & lit candles & promises.
he will loom with his bottle-cap eyes
& arms out stretched as if 
wanting an embrace 
but really just saying 
"hand everything over." we prepare
baskets of glass jars
& stuffed animals. hear his fingers
crackle before he works
the earth's core. pulling & pressing
on the heat. finding lumps 
of delight & rolling them up
for later. the end times
are asking for our lips.
at night all the doors lock themselves
& we lay down like dolls
in the living room. father eats 
his way through the dark.
sometimes i wish i could be father.
i take a kitchen knife & consider
digging my own hole to crawl into.
i ask in my head for a sign
or a son but always 
talk myself out of it. 
instead, find another trinket
to deliver to him. a shoe.
a sliver. a basket of wild onions.
keep your eyes closed.
he's trying to watch the game. 

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