For Mom and Dad
A terrible student, I was predisposed
to chasing phantoms into alleys, to seeing
carnations bloom in oil slicks: I once spent
a math lecture lost in a dream
where I planted a tulip garden in a landfill.
Having failed Algebra twice—I said it was
on purpose, and, in a way, it was—Dad
began to help me study. How easily the proofs
came to him, the solutions! Before each exam
he would say, Son, keep your wits about you.
Mom and Dad worried I would fail
and spend my days serenading beached whales
or beseeching Eagles to sheath their talons;
I feared subjects with clear answers, even if
uneasily arrived at. With so many means
to drown oneself, I did not know
how to survive a world stripped of wonder
by what is expected of us.
Still too busy to rake the yard,
I’ve buried the moon in leaves.
Amidst all this ardor,
I study how a leaf shrivels absent the tree
it fell from, why a cockatoo
refuses to comb its crest.
Somehow, I forge an authentic life.