Poetry

My father, sucking bones

CARA-LYN MORGAN

From What Became My Grieving Ceremony. Published by Thistledown Press in 2014.

Sucking marrow from his chicken bones, spitting

the splinters on the rim of a white china plate, he cracks

the knuckles of his index fingers, first one

then the other, belches quietly into his fist, eyes closed on

another place       a different table       a two-room house

its rusted roof

the palm in neighbour’s yard, a splinter in the meat of his heel

from shimmying its ragged trunk. Leotha, his mother, digs

it out with her eyebrow tweezers, blows soft

on the wound, her ribs hidden in layers of mother-fat

church dress, apron. Roughs the sand from his skin

with her hand, cuffs hard his small ear, settle

boy, settle. Shows the sliver, shaming his tears

with the click of her tongue. Her children all left home

young, four girls, three boys, my father. Strayed

fast from Trinidad       to Harlem       Boston       Rosthern,

Saskatchewan       abandoned

the taste of fried doubles    buljoul    dasheen

turmeric    green iguana    and how Leotha delighted

in shark-and-bake on Sundays. And she, poor

and afraid to fly, stayed in the red-roofed house, a whelp

of aging bones    a voice

on a long, long-distance line. My father

breaking a thigh bone in his teeth

rubs his tongue down the cracked leg bone

and licks it whistle-clean.

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