Pale scrapings of people
with lipstick ringed glasses
and cigarettes burning,
and laughter trickling up and down
their knotty throats.
What is this,
a gathering of henhouse critics?
My father’s voice in the back of my head,
saying, forget that I’m dead and if you
can not do that than pretend.
I am standing
just outside the gallery
beneath the shadowy bough of a birch.
The moon is floating in the sky’s dark lap.
Faraway I can hear the ocean sigh.
Now father, I am asking,
what smile are you wearing?
What color are your eyes again?
How many teeth have you lost?
Don’t you think I want a kiss.
Perhaps I don’t. Perhaps I don’t
want to stand and pretend you
not dead while the wet, champagne
mouths of the living tell me how wonderful
your paintings are.
As they crook their fingers and strain their necks,
lose their vocabulary inside the artwork’s depths
Father, I want your reputation to outlive the pursuits
of others with their iron-on reviews after an hour’s
worth of browsing at a lifetime of your work.
Father, are you crying?
Stop that sound.
© Lisa Zaran