my father's birthday

he opens a his gift to find
a butchered rabbit. we have been
hunting all our lives for something
to sacrifice to him.
sometimes i cut down trees
& i call him & tell him what i have done.
he shakes his head like a bowl
of marbles. we used to go fishing
in the dew-slick summer morning.
stuck potato rolls to the end
of hooks. fished little girls
out of the lake & put them
in the cooler for later. a beer can holder
with his name on it. the basement where
he used to carry the hooks 
to clean them. i cut my hair myself
& watched as the pieces 
would turn into moths. my father
he hates being alive. sometimes 
i'd catch him standing on the roof
& trying to jump off. only, every attempt
a flock of crows would catch & save him.
he is a year older which also means
i am a year younger. soon i will be
just a pair of shut eyes.
we turned over rocks in search 
of pair tongues. something to say to him.
i write "son" on the soles of my feet.
walk as long as i can until
the words are rubbed off. he hunches 
his shoulders like a boulder.
eats from the cake using his hands.
as if it were a carcass. as if we were
vultures & not brothers. there comes a point
when your father is your brother
& your brother is a head of cabbage.
someone sits me on the kitchen table
& works to pry each skirt away.
i am washing his shoes in the river.
he is sleeping like a drawer full of candles.

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