There were ways I marked Dad’s absence:
living room sofa without his slender frame
prepping lectures on a laptop,
dining room serene without his thunderclap
voice raging over broken dishes,
kettle not whistling with water for his Earl Grey tea,
chair idling at the head of the dining room table.
Lumbering indoors after dark,
back bent as if imitating Atlas
& right arm bandaged where tubes diffused blood,
he’d listen to Coltrane or Brubeck as if meditating.
The prospect of losing him was a repeating record.
I held onto the Santa hat he wore inside
over his bald head each winter
& his habit of humming oratorios while eating
to keep the pain of what may come
from breaking me open.