The Resurrection, 2009. Photomontage / Self Portrait. Liz Huston.
When I visit my father he always says,
Let’s go to Bob’s and get a senior burger,
and on the way there we always pass
the bikini espresso shack where
the barista, always in nothing but a thong,
is working her big silver Cimbali—
banging used grounds from the filters,
wiping milk foam off the rods.
My father always tells me to slow down
so he can get a look at the barista
and I’m always surprised he doesn’t mind
my knowing he wants to see.
Once we pass, he always tells me
what lane to get into, to swing wide
to avoid hitting the curb, and park
in the handicapped because, as always,
he didn’t bring his cane.
When our burgers arrive,
he always tells me the story of Hot Cups,
the bikini shack that blew up.
It was a cold January morning.
The near-naked barista was firing up
the space heater that kept her tiny kiosk warm.
There was a flash.
The shack burst into flames.
The barista jumped out the window
but she didn’t get out with her life.
Single mom, two kids—
that shack was going to be her salvation,
the obituary said.
You never know about a person,
my father always says at the end of the story.
We finish our senior burgers,
figure the tip,
get back on the road.
THE LIVING WILL ALWAYS LEAVE YOU.
THE DEAD STAY WITH YOU FOREVER.
It’s harder than you’d think to die
even for us mortals
asking god stopping meds not eating
not even losing the will to live
always gets you there.
Autologous systems know no better
than to carry on until they don’t.
I’ve been asleep most of my life
walking naked through brambles
gnawing mold off berries remembering
Amazonian fishermen I saw in a film
who cradled their catch in their arms
held it close to the breast
humming a soft tune
until the fish died
smiling as the fish tried to escape—
as gills grasped at air
unable to find oxygen.
My father has been dead six months.
Even a popup blocker can’t stop
for Men’s Size M flannel pajamas,
a fresh pair of scuffs.
Have you forgotten something?