My father remembers what I cannot,

or will not; a night I brought him to

my new country. Castle of fireworks,

bagpipe walls. And he is rolling that night

over and over – the way I roll over my love,

sometimes say her name as if it was a secret

rosary – he rolls the thumb of his tongue over

and over, says, he had never seen a castle

which did not sell hamburgers, says I

bought the tickets, (which I’m sure I didn’t)

says he danced with the people near him,

shook with cracks of actual laughter –

and I have no faces

from that night and wonder

how many beads I have lost

and another time

he paid for Vegas tigers and magic and it cost

more than it was worth. So we sat

in that dark room with mirrors and strings

inside us and the feeling that this neon

spandex and black-light hokum was worse

than embarrassing.

Remorse sticks to my tongue like prayers

once whispered in a confessional, forgive me

father I have sinned, it has been decades

since my last true penance. I have disobeyed

my mother, forgotten the hospital you waited in,

lost memories of you carrying me above water

so when you talk of castles

your words are a shocking string of good

prayers  that I forgot to say since the day I learned them

and I roll myself over, mumble through the forgiveness

I might also speak.


First published in Conte, 2010.