I recall that evening in the hospital. Midnight—
my father curled up like a tendril, or
a tight bud of veined confidence under the ribs.
He was a secret that would not unfold.
I summoned the story of the rabbit and the frog:
The rabbit, always afraid of its own shadow,
was heartened, upon first meeting,
to see the frog leap into a pond.
And so, I explained his upcoming surgery as merely
fear leaving fear in the same way that water
passes through water. It is true that fear
never really knows its source—echo, running away
Moving through time, as through
distilled underwater shadows,
I told stories, understanding
how words stretched out before me,
crescent minnows becoming invisible
If there were angels in the room, I did not hear them,
only the muffled swish of a broom removing dust.
Is this how one slowly forgot?
Moved backwards through tense, as over
a string of beads?
Turned off the TV?
Dream of snow within dream:
How will my grief become a river?
To whom will I tell this?