Ode to My Father's Failed Kidney
It’s a question of impurity, says the doctor,
like how a lie will live in the body
years after it’s told.
The body’s its own remedy;
it will always recover.
If it’s a question of purity, it’s also
a question of sanitation, isn’t it?
You’re a type of spring-cleaning: here
in the body there’s always something
ready to bloom.
If one acts quickly after a snakebite
they can suck the poison out of the wound.
I lied when I said always.
I lied when I said you could suck the poison out.
You would know best: the blood holds on
to every infraction. Even poison, once given, is a gift.
My father dreams of the sky
or does he? Rather, can he?
No dreams, no room for dreaming
or the dreamer, it seems, here, below
a sky unimagined, untouched by invention or
fancy, the all- always- ever-blue—true, not
of the blue du ciel of the bird of the dress
in the trendy azure, cornflower blue, which brings us to
have you noticed yet—the blue, not
of a painted picture or a brand-new car—
real, honest blue—that kind of tint of airy (but
still, the dirt beneath, of earth? still)—you understand—
that he doesn't dream it per se but rather gazes
upon the sky, a bird, approximately,
that from here looks like a paper cut-out taped to
the blue so unbearable, unbearably blue—
cerulean really—like the warbler he sees with eye-
sight, however failing, or perhaps failed—actually, not
at all: no seeing, no bird, no blue, though his head dips
to the side as though seeing, considering what he had
seen at some point: the sky—have you ever seen
such a blue, this glass eye of a blue, can you see it?
You can't see it. There is no sky here. Just a beige-colored
living room ceiling and my father, not breathing, not
my father—maybe it's not him. I'm not sure.
Understand, it could be
anyone. How could I know.
I can't see him clearly from here.
Maya Phillips was born and raised in New York. Maya received her BFA in writing, literature, and publishing with a concentration in poetry from Emerson College and her MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson's MFA Program for Writers. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Hayden's Ferry Review, FreezeRay, and Anomaly, and her arts & entertainment journalism has appeared in The New York Times, Vulture, American Theatre, and more. Her debut poetry collection, Erou, is forthcoming in fall 2019 from Four Way Books. Maya currently works as the associate content editor & producer at the Academy of American Poets and as a freelance writer. She lives in Brooklyn.