written for my father, Julius Richard Hopkins, Jr., in my early forties


I feel my father rising up through me like a buffalo fish
greasy from the river bottom.
He comes up one eyed, looking at the moon
with rusted fish hooks, cat gut lines across his mouth.
And as the moon kneels down through willow branches
looking at herself in water rings
my father sees himself in me.

I see him in my shaving mirror, his coffee jitter, bit of toilet paper on the weak
and dimpled chin
smell of poot around him damp as flannel.

Taste his cigarette breath as my own again.
Listen for and hear
hound dogs baying at an empty sweetgum tree
the moon curled in its higher branches
where a possum was the night before.
There is joy in that.

I am nine months pregnant with my father
ready now to deliver
his face shouldering through mine.
I will share that face with him a while
and show his eyes for mine.
Then I will let my father rise beyond the surface of the San Jacinto River
where the sun is risen already.