Poetry

UMBRELLA

There’s an embarrassment between us,
two flowers in a vase
the same water
running up our stems
like sap

Our bond tacit, like
the gifts he used to leave,
a bright red bike
holding up
a tennis racquet

He takes me to a restaurant, now, and
relating a scam
I catch a glimpse
of a sphere of experience
in which he is not cramped

The wheeling and the flash,
and how the women
at his table
must be
taken in by that

We drive out to La Perouse
and walk the rows,
looking for a marker
that is not
merely past

We stand, looking down
at the strange names
of our ancestors
and I cannot ask him
what it meant

The bed has subsided
on one side, and as
we bend
to clear
the detritus

I begin to understand
his reluctance
to acknowledge
whatever it is
between us, Dad,

He holds it out of reach,
an umbrella
that I try to grab,
get at
its maddening correspondence

In the space beneath
it binds us,
a plant,
and all along the brolly’s stems
I can feel the moving sap.