An August night twenty years ago
and my father enters the living
room of his small, cracked house.

He enters it like a pilgrim, limping
along the edges of his bare, bent feet,
one short step after another

set against the dark hardwood,
the thick sour smells of pizza and coffee,
chatter of Strato-“Two-seven,

Rhodes doubles to right!”-
and the laughter of my brothers’ dice.
He enters it wearing a T-shirt

and green Levi’s; a can of Budweiser
clutched in a hand with only three fingers,
and his small, round face locked

on the ghost of my mother
calling to him from the quilted leather
pattern of a wingback chair.

He enters it following a face
still freckled and alive, a voice
that on this night, as every night,

pulls him across an open floor,
the uneven truth of her young death,
and into the chair’s worn arms,
the same uneasy sleep.