Picked Over

At dusk, my father whooped, clapped
two-by-fours. Then he scoured clean
the grill’s grate. Turning a patty
seared the color of the feather
I watched flutter off the table,
he prayed, “Let that be the last time.”

I asked why he’d clapped cut lumber.
Why not use his hands? “Crows don’t
shoo for less than a gunshot,”
he said. “If I let them linger,
they’ll ruin the roof, and the oaks
they keep choosing for their roost.”

I caved at his use of choosing.
We don’t get to choose who we love,

you’d said to me over the phone,
just after I’d broken your heart.
What had I said? I don’t know how
to love you. I don’t think I can.

I imagined one day having
to hold a short board in each hand,
clapping the boards furiously,
then rooting for satisfaction
while a thousand blackbirds flew off.
I hoped to feel freed, not emptied.


Patrick Faller