Collage by Ansellia Kulikku. Source images: Anonymous, "Empty Stage," drawing, 19th century. The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1952. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wenceslas Hollar, "Bearded Old Man," print on paper, ca. 1640. From the Wenceslaus Hollar Digital Collection, University of Toronto.

At the rehab center
late at night when my father
presses the call button,
someone hurries in
and shuts it off, thus maintaining
their quick response rate, but leaves
without helping him pee, he tells me
in a whisper on the best
spring day of the year so far,
of the century: I could have picked
two hundred
million snowdrops on the way in
had I patience
and a doll’s fingers.                 He’s afraid

of angering the staff and has learned to pee
on himself with dignity.          It’s all

in the not-crying.                     In imagining

he’s a chunk of wind
the next day while his penis
is being washed
and he can’t feel it, just a sock
with a hole in it.                       I’m afraid

of the future.                That I’ll need a gun

to help me out of the jam
of having a body.        Is what I’m thinking

while holding his hand, while believing
there’s nothing to be done
about the weight of the night
on his chest except to lift him
and carry him home and give him back
to his own bed to live and die in,
as he and my mother
gave me to the sun all those years ago
to run under and end up here,
not knowing what to do
about the rumor that part of us
goes on after the heart’s last sigh,
other than applaud the possibility
as I would a woman
standing up from a piano
after the gazelles of her hands
have stopped running, the music over
but not the chance for more music
if we clap enough that she believes
how desperate we are and that only
she can save us.

Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok’s latest book is Sex & Love & (Copper Canyon, 2016). Elegy Owed (Copper Canyon, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.