The girls and I drive east,
Sunrise like a creamsicle,
spread only the way a desert
can make it, edged between jagged
mountains and the freezer blue
of a sky, failing before day. The half-light
ripples the frost on the dry lake,
and Venus hangs a punch hole in the dark sky.
We travel to see my father, whose heart
is battered with decades of cigarettes,
industry, and the working class diet
designed to keep the body burning
through the long shifts of mining ore,
hauling the nation’s freight, or the rejection
of a first born son. The space around
his heart has filled with fluid like so much
sweat and tears of a lifetime of work,
compressing it until it struggles to beat,
to do its job.
My daughters sleep as I drive and regard
Venus through the windshield, fading
with the sunrise. How the son always
feels the pull of the father, no matter
how far away he travels or long ago
the last civil word.
Venus maybe in retrograde,
But it always returns along its frozen
ellipsis, not to the heart, but close enough
to see its light at its brightest.