53: coma in cantos, canto 10

canto 10

Upon opening the door
he would open a great wingspan
and say, I’m home, in the voice
of a caller calling Is anyone home
to an empty dwelling.

Upon keyturning the car
and killing the engine
he’d say, Safe and sound.
As promised.

Once I buried all his
shoes in the backyard
because I thought they might grow
and I’d have my own garden,
a shoe garden,
shoe trees, shoe shrubs,
flowers heavy-headed with little shoes
that would grow into big shoes,
and he laughed,
saying, It might work
but I need those shoes
for now. He let me
keep certain old pairs,
a brown pair, with split
soles, flopsome, and flaky leather.
Water them, he said,
while my mother chuckled
and provided me some
amount of fertilizer
in a little paper cup.

And that grand place
where he worked.
He’d say, Safe and sound.
As promised and we’d
walk under the turning massive
walls and the grand windows
and the flags and the trees
and the crowds of city birds in them,
and the lofty ceilings
and the long blocks of counters
and the monstrous machines
with their lights and their dials
and their strange strands of tubing
and the readouts, and their stands and wheels
and the tall doctors and nurses
with their papers and their eye glasses
reflecting the white jello overheads,
and their white shoes and their busyness,
soft, whispered voices,
and the wheel chairs and the men and women
in them, with their slippers on the foot plates,
and their eyes I never saw blink,
and a man breathing on a table
and another man breathing on a table,
and the rectangles of light on the marble
floors and on the linoleum floors,
waxed and wet-looking,
and the office doors and the brass nameplates,
some with rippleglass, others solid, gray, and dented,
scratched, behind which I imagined screaming
and heavy silver tools cutting through skulls,
bone-dust ricocheting off the machinist’s safety plate,
and the long hallways out and out again
sometimes into sun and sometimes into rain,
and my father would say, Safe and sound.
As promised upon homecoming.

yes, he would open his arms
at hometime, and we knew exactly
what it all meant, as it was repeated,
repeatable, and he would say
to the house I’m home
and so I imagined
him opening his eyes,
waking in the bed,
reaching the highest rung
of the ladder of deepsleep,
open his eyes,
say, I’m home.

but this isn’t what happened.