THE FATHER, THE DAUGHTER & THE (WAR)HOLY SPIRIT
bananas make me think of andy warhol and,
for some reason, my father.
lots of things make me think of my father,
although fewer all the time ––
charles dickens, the state of florida,
electric guitar, homemade bread, eighth grade,
the nervous way i pick the skin off my fingers,
forest green, therapy, my own last name,
the fear of intimacy that i say i got from him,
but i guess i never knew him well enough to know
what he was afraid of, let alone
all the things he loved.
(i know he loved me.
i think he was scared of me.)
yes, this loss is bigger than the breadbox
we kept on our counter until i was fourteen,
unimpeachably silver in the radiating afternoon sun.
my father, i guess i’m trying to say, is always
on the back of my tongue, his name a flavor
i can’t shake, like the cloying ooze of banana,
those slivers that splay off when opened,
not quite peel, not quite fruit.
maybe a lot of things are in between,
like the way i always miss him
but never quite do.
last night i dreamt of myself, age nine,
with my father and andy warhol
in the greenwood trader joe’s.
andy drifts across my childhood
memory, transient, passing through
aisles of fig newtons and gingersnaps
as he sketches everything in sight,
trails translucent fingers across
an ordinary life, regards it as something
marvelous. he kneels on the flecked vinyl
and says to me, the february light here, today,
is unprecedented. can you see it?
he is fascinated by the mundane,
and i am fascinated by him. you see ––
he is my father in an alternate universe:
the enigmatic, eccentric artist my dad might have been
if he’d had the gumption and the antidepressants
to pull it off. i look at my father, my elementary school
crossing guard, the scratch of his beard
emblematic of softness to me, his name
the first word i ever said.
i want to tell him:
you don’t have to be andy warhol.
you don’t have to be anything bigger than this.
it’s enough just to buy me campbell’s soup and bananas
at the grocery store, to let your hand sway
out the minivan window and try to catch hold
of the unimpeachable light
on our way home.