I consider the list of things I’ve held against him,
circling my finger around the ridge of a glass I don’t drink from. Your mother
is in the hospital again, he says; he’s signing
the papers for no resuscitation.
I listen to him cry over the phone about the woman who,
for years, he complained never took his advice.
And, of course, I think of all the times
he never took advice. The world is full of hypocrites. I know;
I keep telling myself I have no religion, but really,
I do. Mom, I say, will go home as though it’s the most beautiful gift
he could give: to let her.
I want to shepherd him kindly, even if an afterlife proves to be
an illusion, not also admitting I need to believe
there’s a place my mother will go.
My father weeps softly over the phone, gently prodding offenses away—
leading me in paths of righteousness.