I never see him whole, but in parts
as if told to draw,
each segment smooth and moulded
like a clown’s tied-off balloon.

His cough involves him most,
as it subsides into a glass, mucus,
a bit of him detached at cost.
More often it stays settled, beds his chest, will not be raised.
Dad coughs: it’s not brought to account.

At one time you were large:
I reached only to your knees.
I sat on the floor of your wardrobe,
understood with your shoes what it was to have a little to do
with a remote Godhead.
There was a row of suits, vacant of men.

I could not be at all scientific,
could not establish a model. You arrived
lit in a sedan interior, glided into the garage.
You made noise briefly in the kitchen,
rattled your keys and retired behind doors.

You were a Martian taking great, destructive strides.
I mistrusted your human semblance, made up creation stories.
In a frame you wore a sailor hat:
you were not an accountant, but a mariner.
From the mouth of each catch you drew a coin.

You are still not entirely human to me,
a comedy of failing bits.
I assemble you, break you into genes.
I’m tall enough now to be far from your knees,
to see into the shelf of your medicine cabinet.

He growls when he hugs me,
wonders how I became of him. He owns me:
somehow I love his sideways gait. There is between us
the finished yoke of a feeling achieved:
a child with your name is no guarantee.

He puts reluctant bills in envelopes,
is always behind the date. He took me in and threw me out.
Somewhere in his groin, a cancer was expelled in shreds.
He has a mechanical knee. He will die.

I stand beside him
wanting to read in an arrangement of phlegm
some reason for the lack in us.
It has not yet made sense.
I bring him a toasted sandwich and rest a hand on his back.