Poetry: Tim Mayo
All you can tell is that someone
must have said, Smile, and I did
squinting out into the gray air
as if it were bright, but my father
presses his lips together seeming
to brace for something I couldn’t see.
Behind us, a lone hydrangea completes
the picture as though putting its arms around us.
It has no blossoms. The full flourish
of its leaves hides the complicated twists
of its branches.
And neglect has put
this crease you see through my father’s heart,
so, now, it folds and closes like a card.
I remember a roommate who never undressed
in my presence. I never gave it a thought,
until one day I saw his bare white backside, its
hairless porcelain-patina, before he turned away
as I entered unexpectedly. He fled as you might see
a shy animal on the verge of extinction slip away
through the leaves, one of a kind which the world
will not know for long, or which the world has already lost,
so when you see it, you think you’ve only imagined it.
What I am trying to say is that my roommate had a tail.
A small stub of a thing located at the end of his spine
just above the split in his buttocks before they curled
under tucking his lower half ahead of the rest of him
and giving a slightly more simian slouch to his stance.
Though I’ve been silent about this for years, I feel
this need—not to shout this to the world or poke you
in the ribs as if it were some unusual locker room joke.
Instead, as I have come to an age I thought then was distant,
I know now how close we all are from where we have come,
and as I look out my window searching to say more,
I see something move in the leaves I’ve never seen before.