Veritas  Any Day Now
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Catherine Roberts Leach
 Basement Rites


Did you and your father play catch?
You were nine, say?

Did you hunt with him?
Twelve, say?

Did he, laughing, lock you in the basement den
with only light from the TV?

He draw a dust penis on the furnace?
He show you how to spit?
He tell you where to put it?
In darkness?

Did he say
for thirteen days you will dream your life
all you need to know glows here?
Did he muss your hair
before laughing, leaving you in the phosphor dark?

And at night in thirteen dreams
were there faces up high in the windows?
Were there masks on the TV screen?
Were there shapes you might call ideas?
Was there laughter that sounded like your father’s?

And when he unlocked the door after thirteen days
did he say you did well, you are blood?
Did he then kiss you?
Did you love him?

Is it yes?
Tell me

You did well
(Live your life)

You did well
(Pray to Jesus)

You did well
(Teach your children)

I’ve moved to the woods
I’ve grown a beard
I carry a knife

I gather fantasies for kindling
I burn them for heat

I see my father’s face in all my windows
And he is not laughing


9 September 2007

This poem, in a slightly altered form, originally appeared in country CONNECTIONS

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