Child, Father

“And of my father who lost his life twice,
Once in himself and once in me.”

— Alcohol, Joe Bolton


I dreamt of him again. He stood there
in the patio, like a bird
perched, searching for a saucer
filled with water, placed on the railing.

I could see—him, putting his needs
in my once-fragile hands;
his eyes, looking for the ounce
of kindness he once taught my brother and me—

          every day, and in small ways.


Yesterday, I read somewhere
that having a father
means having the luxury to be an atheist
—to not believe in the unseen or unseemly.

And then, once your father
is old, his life screaming
everything you once screamed
from atop his shoulders, your father now

          a child, now a bird.


In the dream, I stood there too,
my fist delicately closed
around husked grains; in my right hand
a bottle of water. My father as a bird and I

          staring, staring at each other—

JAYANT KASHYAP is a poet, essayist, translator and artist. He has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net, and is the author of two pamphlets and a zine, Water (Skear Zines, 2021). His work appears in POETRY, Magma, The Fourth River, and elsewhere.