Before he died our father asked to be left
on the dining room table. It was difficult,
but we’ve learned to eat our meals around him,
though at times someone
still puts a fork into his leg.
Our guests become uncomfortable
when they see him on the table.
They ask if he’s asleep.
I always say yes, and that’s why they talk
in a whisper for the rest of the night.
Although he no longer brings a paycheck home
he provides for us in small ways.
We dust him daily; change his clothes weekly.
He no longer shouts, stalks the house in
longjohns, or comes home drunk Friday night.
We put a flower in his lapel every Sunday.
In the spring we take him outside
and air him out.
Then we buy him a new suit and put
a clove of garlic in his pocket for luck.
At Christmas our lives revolve around our father.
We wire him with colored lights,
sprinkle angel’s dust in his hair,
hang glass bulbs from his fingers and toes,
lay presents at his feet.
—John Pijewski, “Our Father”
Photography Credit Larry Sultan