When a past father of mine makes an appearance
in my current father’s sentences,
I welcome him and pay attention to the language
comprising his person.
My scrutiny will help me to know
when the past father departs in the near future,
as he is wont to do.
The subjects and verbs of this father’s clauses agree.
They are agreeable subjects,
obeying his commands.
I pose questions to them:
Where were you yesterday
in the morning, when my father woke up, disoriented,
and you became this or that
inside a vague pronoun
detached from its antecedent?
It is important that you tether yourselves
to real things in the world:
The snowman my daughter called a “snowperson,”
who has prunes for eyes and a berry mouth.
A flicker that perches daily
on a sunlit spot on our leafless maple.
It is important, too, that I not get my hopes up.
Language tethers the past father to me.
That father, this father—
language delivers them both to me.
Sometimes I can’t distinguish between them,
as language can mask what makes a person