Black Clouds

After the nursing home was paid,
all that remained of my father’s legacy
was his stark depression,
handed down from one generation
of fearful Russian Jews
to the next
And finally given to me.
Now when the black clouds come,
terrible and unannounced,
I’m a stranger to myself,
caught on the outside looking in,
so filled with vain regrets
I crave no other sustenance.
My body is an old, rusted
piece of farm equipment,
springing back to life
only after repeated attempts
to turn over the motor.

Placing one foot in front of the other,
I shuffle across the stage,
performing a reasonable imitation
of the person I used to be.
No one can spot the imposture
except you,
the dark and lovely reason
I am still alive.
Perceiving my sadness
by the unfocused gaze of my eyes,
You run your fingers
down the back of my head
and stroke the nape of my neck
as if I were a kitten
you had brought in from the cold.
Suddenly the black clouds part
and even my father is smiling
at all the younger women
who approach him in Heaven.

(Originally published in Mused)

 

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