after E. E. Cummings
My father moved through dooms--period.
Each morning turning
the faucets on and off
while shaving to save on the water,
the plumbing hit high C, rattled my dreams
and those of the dog scratching to be let out
of the cellar and barking to be let in.
My father rode the Greyhound to the Maritime Commission,
in the white cowboy hat he bought himself in Texas,
what with cherry vanilla ice cream in the cafeteria
and lemon pie at home from mother--he was lucky.
He did not rage against the dying of the light
but went from room to room turning them off,
grumbling, then tipped the shades and beamed 60 watts
right in your face if you were trying to read
for fear you might need glasses.
Occasionally he sang
or prayed out loud so long it made me sweat.
He was good at painting wrought-iron rails.
He taught me how to sneeze in public,
to hate tight belts;
he was a blue-plate special.