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July 2014, vol 10, no 2

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Jonathan Humphrey

How To Disassemble Your Father’s Ghost (Winter)

We suffer each other to have each other for a while.
                              Li-Young Lee

The night your father’s ghost appears, take his old pocketknife from the drawer in the study and have him sit down in the chair. First you must cut the apparitions of his ears. He will ask for you to skip them like stones across the wooden floor. He has always wanted to know this sound. Next, you must sever the opaque tongue from the back of the opaque throat. Cast it into the fire. He will smile, as it tastes like bourbon. Close the knife. Return it to the drawer. His heart will be easily retrieved from the cloud-like chest. It must be fed to the dog. Wake the dog and feed him heartily. Your father’s ghost gives you this order without reason. Slowly he will stand and walk to the sliding door by the back porch. Follow him out into the snowy yard. Watch as he stretches his arms. Be prepared to stare until morning. When the wrens wake, they will dart through his body until it is riddled with holes. What remains will lift like fog, burnt off by a trepid sun.

were my father alive
green shoots
pierce snow