MY FATHER’S HAIKU
My father’s haiku
aren’t concerned with images.
He ate a sandwich
from Charlie’s; there was too much
cheese. Every night,
he returns from work, his shirt
loose on his shoulders,
and he writes one down, counting
syllables like coins,
recording the baseball score,
the stock market leap.
He says how we’re both poets,
that it must have been
in my genes. But I want trees—
the scent of peeled oranges,
the throat of a frog.
Days, he manages, gives good
work to Bosnians
and crosses three states to fight
for raises. Driving home,
he makes a haiku for me,
then dials my number,
reads his poem to a machine.
THINGS I KNOW
My sister sat on his lap, feeding him M&Ms.
When she was done, the skin on her palms
was kaleidoscopic. He bounced her on his leg,
his laughter opaque from years of cigarettes.
I understand there was a stroke. I understand
that, for weeks, speech was impossible.
He loved the insulation business like he hated
his son’s dog, that malamute with a made-up name
who chewed the chair legs and stole the Sunday paper.
He once made a sale while delirious from fever.
I understand there was a sick room. I understand
that the light came amber through the windows.
My grandmother wore her wedding band on a gold chain
and learned to live alone. She kept him in a frame
on the fireplace, riding his bike on the railroad tracks,
his eyes fixed on something just past the photograph.
I understand I was born too late. I understand
the sheets had been washed, the bed remade.
Megan Collins received her MFA from Boston University. She teaches creative writing at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, as well as literature at Central Connecticut State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, including 3Elements Review, Linebreak, Off the Coast, Rattle, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. More information and links to her work can be found on her website at www.megan-collins.com.