They go like rabbits, is what I thought
and came and wrote down, though I know
nothing about rabbits. I knew poems before
they turned rabbit. The boy turned them rabbit,
his colic a spell. Alakazam, alakazoodle,
turn this brain into a noodle!
a month ago we were in your living room.
The boy was on your carpet eating fishy crackers
from a bowl. He was afraid of your cat
but still less afraid than of any other cat.
We had Nickelodeon on and we were talking
about Dad, about the Dad you knew before I was born
who was so busy while your mother was so sick
and how unerringly happy he managed to stay
through it all, as if he couldn’t even see the darkness
let alone be swallowed by it. How you’d almost
forgiven him for that. And now all these tubes, Jon,
and nine bags of fluid syncopating through
your organs. I wanted to be Dad as badly as you.
The boy is in the waiting room. He likely
won’t remember you, though I will tell him
story after story until a living room opens up
Alakazam inside him and in it a rabbit
eating fishy crackers on the carpet
while he sits in my chair beside you
talking provincial NDP and in another room
I kneel next to your mother’s bed
as by the door you remove our father’s hat
and hang it on its hook beside
his trench coat beaded with rainwater
which runs like rabbits (whatever rabbits are)
down the grey lawn and disappears.






First published in The Malahat Review (Spring 2020).

Read more poems from Strangers.