whitewater rafting in eastern Tennessee, well, that’s just something i have not done

today’s table is four
confident sea otters
on a dock borrowed from
morning. today’s table
is a light blue fiberglass deck,
a sailboat, the colors
reminding of popularity
contests from years long ago
recycled into today. today,
too and again, already
molting into quiet
comfort of obsolescence.
today’s table is rhubarb
grown in my mother’s back yard,
picked by her hands, cleaned,
baked sweetly into a pie.
patience, my ever-young child,
even death cannot turn you
from the enticing thighs of youth.
even your skin,
sandpaper and paper crane,
floating from the chalk
of evening’s lengthening bones,
even that cannot clear
today’s table. sleep
sits incongruously in your midday
eyes, waiting for a seat
at your table. and who
might we bring with us,
to share in our today
table’s setting suns?

my table, it was set
by the square hands of my father,
a robust man who
positively shuddered
with fear. “when you struck
me, tongue quivering
in its cavern, is when i most saw
your eyes, their heaping,
helpless love.”

today’s table, set by
my father’s hand, it no longer
bares fruit of exclusion, though
i am unsure at what offering might
stain its grain. it is not
yet ripe. perhaps
no fruit will appear,
and i will instead grow lean
on the beauty of bud and flower,
shushed to sleep by
the threshing of grain,
laughing into a weeping
wind. today’s table has
a place for anger, yes.
a place for hate. a place
for need. today’s table does
not turn away a friend, face covered
in scabs, picking, as the drugs
pick back. today’s table
does not deny a stranger,
overstuffed
with the symbols of purchase,
loud and proud with terror.
judgement, today’s table welcomes
judgment, welcomes it soothingly
and with harsh, righteous
rage. rage is welcome,
too. fire takes a place
at today’s table, next
to water, next to ruin,
next to wind.

my father left me
many years ago and it is
in his absence that i have been
allowed to learn. grief,
longing, absence, the round
plum hum of unyielding sorrow,
all asked to please, please
sit with me.

i eat rhubarb pie,
from my mother,
on the pale party blue deck
of a sailboat,
the residence of which i am
given by my sister.
the i that writes is not
the i who eats.
i sit with him, though
i am unsure
if that is the appropriate
pronoun, even, to use.
i sit and watch;
a hand brings food
to a mouth. a mouth
considers, accepts.
a throat, well it can grow
tight from the kindness of giving.

look at this!
today’s table, it
overflows! and
here is someone on a back
deck of a boat! the boat,
it floats and this person,
this person is fed.

my sister’s husband,
this is his sailboat, too, he
glides by me on small skiff,
offers me white flesh
of a fresh rock fish.
i, it is me this time,
decline the gift, too nervous
to grip the knife needed
to absolve myself.
over to the north and to the
west, an unbothered volcano
daily loses its graceful cape
of snow. clouds,
impermanent, passing, yes,
but alive, they silently embed
themselves atop spruce saturated
mountains to the east.
these clouds provide
shadow, drawing ever more
green from evergreen
tips.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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