Patricia Horn O'Brien


When I woke for school the next day the sky was uniform & less than           

with the confusion of autumn & my father

as he became distant with disease the way a boy falls beneath the ice,
  before the men that cannot save him—

the cold like a forever on his lips.

Soon, he was never up before us & we’d jump on the bed,
  wake up, wake up,

& my sister’s hair was still in curls then, & my favorite photograph still       

  my father’s back to us, leading a bicycle uphill.

At the top, the roads vanish & turn—

the leaves leant yellow in a frozen sprint of light, & there, the forward          


The nights I laid in the crutch of my parents’ doorway & dreamt awake,
  listened like a field of snow,

I heard no answer. Then sleepless slept in my own arms beneath                  

   the window
  to the teacher’s blank & lull—

Mrs. Belmont’s lesson on Eden that year. Autumn: dusk:

  my bicycle beside me in the withered & yet-to-be leaves,

& my eyes closed fast beneath the mystery of migration, the flock’s               

   rippled wake:

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