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A Poem for My Father (96 years old on Feb. 29, 2000)

With exact wings
Your words sailed back
into your throat. Could
not fly forward.
Your mouth face
startled by this autumn
Thunder went south again.
I had forgotten the salute
of death, how it waits Militarily
on the outskirts of our skin.
I had forgotten how death
howls inside our veins.
O father, how much like a child
again I felt as I ran down doctors
painted on porcelain corridors.
O My father, as I breathed
inhaled for us both,
I began to sing a song
you sang when I was little
without a poet's name,
Afraid of all the shadows
cremating my bones,

     Remember the nite,
     The nite you said
     I love you

I remembered your voice swollen
in a ritual of words on
152nd Street and St. Nicholas Place.
Now I, daughter of applause,
hands waterlogged with memory,
asked for nothing more
as I circled your hospital room,
sequined with our breaths
in an hour-glass of sound.

Written by Sonia Sanchez


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