my father looks like a child
when sleeping. he sleeps with his overly long
limbs dangling over the sides of the bed,
his arms sprawled open,
as if embracing a wave,
an entire shoreline.
I sleep with my small frame
tucked under the blanket,
covering all the parts of me so
I don’t catch a cold. bringing
my legs to my chest I compact
into a ball, the way a hedgehog
does when it prepares for hibernation.
I am always preparing myself for something—
when will I learn that a wave will not
engulf but buoy, that the shoreline
does not retreat but sends ships?
after the cold will be recovery, spring
when the snow sloughs off. as flowers fill
their blooms the hedgehog’s snout emerges
above ground, the creature curious,
newly awake from dormant slumber.
San Francisco with or
without you feels the same.
there are too many people
in this city, not enough barstools
to know all their names. the air
heaves heavy with car exhaust
clogging up the drawers of my heart,
nostalgia fox-trotting its way
across cracked plastered walls. this time
I am leaving without the baggage,
the city dwindling into a miniature
in the rear-view.
I have said my oaths and ate my oats
and I owe nothing to it—
home becomes place when emotion
vacates space, carves the living room empty
lest for a couch and wine glasses
craving fingerprints, mellow
beneath lights. even the cactus you grew
segue into a new rhythm of ease without
you here; I was always the one misting
to keep them alive, anyway.
you never cared much for the
green, spiny orbs in San Francisco.
now neither do I. the house
can lock itself up when I’m gone.