Amy Casey, Safety in Numbers, 2007, Acrylic on Paper, 22.5″ X 19.5″
There are two endings, Father,
and neither end with you amongst us,
but one ends with me falling asleep.
One ends with the devil
shoving your cardboard casket
and lodging it into my throat.
My tongue tasting
the ice slick tang of metal alloy.
My breath hot as a furnace
so the ice of your blood
awakens to rebirth. So all that was ever left of you
will be a heap of ash
molten from my acidity
when I finally swallow.
The other is my body as lake, Father.
My eyes a lagoon, where the kingdom gathers.
My falling hair, the old willow tree, where
Mother chants the last prayers. Where we are finally ready.
Where we gently push you with all of our tears,
and you follow, Father,
in your carved long boat, covered in woven flowers,
with your crown of jewels.
Under the infinity of stars you swim,
King of our lives,
King of our Universe.
Review by Jared Pearce
The two options allow for an ambivalence that sometimes attends the passing of a loved one, and the two image clusters support the difficulty of that ambivalence.
Review by David Memmott
Nice imagery for two endings, moving from cremation, fire, smoke and choke to the Viking longboat set adrift in a lagoon with the Father “covered in woven flowers/with your crown of jewels. The first is a reduction to “a heap of ash” while the second feels like an expansion, the Father swimming “under the infinity of stars.” The strategy is simple and the two endings revolve around the same outcome, but the second has the benefit of modest acclaim “King of our Universe.” This is a moving and positive expression of passing. The ash on your tongue. The kingdom gathered to see you off.
Review by Alan Gold
Preeti Shah has written elsewhere that
“fear and comfort could come from the same thing.”
In this poem she spells that out. One ending burning with the horror of what her father did. The other honoring him as a great patriarch.
This is the hard secret that most cannot harbor: both endings are fully and completely true.
Note: It’s a bit evil of the editor to follow Seyedbagheri’s poem with this one.