My mother cut a bouquet
of chrysanthemums in the rain
and placed them in a vase
on the kitchen table—boasting
their shades of blue. It was that morning
my father announced he liked
men, or was it boys? Or did he say
I no longer love your mother? I didn’t
understand then. The shy way my mother
fingered the lip of the table, my father
plucking tobacco from his tongue before
lighting a cigarette—each of them waited
expecting. Oh finds a way of catching
in the throat when we fear the ceiling
won’t hold the rain any longer. It was
all God before then—homily and hymn.
In the kitchen, the linoleum wheezed
under my mother’s feet as she paced.
The words she searched for were
prayer and healing but they came out
your father’s a faggot. Her eyes as cold blue
as the mums on the table—that impossible
color filling the space between the two of us.