“Equivalence Point,” a poem by Jeff Pearson

My father really died because he wanted to save gas mileage.
A bishop asked me to touch his body

to feel there was no spirit in there, formaldehyde
already nourishing the cells

like xylem and phloem trying to escape to the ground.
There is nothing like ice, high melting point. Unlike mercury. Like the poisonous vial

of slithering metal liquid I opened and played with
from my dad’s desk watching as my hands turned jaundice.

The smell of rotten lettuce inside Iguana cages
my dad is home for the summer. He is actually

in the forest marking trees with spray paint to tell someone
not to knock down this one.

If I heard his voice, now, would I recognize it? Leave this unanswered.
With the blank spots in the bird books for the species not there.

The whooping cranes/the spotted owl/the snipe/My father’s middle name
is Bird. My family’s heirlooms are rifles

kicking against shoulders. Building a hollow for the butt of the gun.
My mind opened up like the lockless gun shelf.

Always keep your ammo and guns separated.
I keep trying to find my dad’s name in the Thrifty Nickel want ads

trying to sell his leftover military jeep.
Attached is a picture of his bent neck.

Drive five miles under the speed limit to save money.
Attached are some light snacks, while I stare at his body.

Attached is a bank teller to finally cash my check
to get me gas

to get me home to see the body before they hide it
in the cellar, mainlined with the formaldehyde.

Look both ways before turning onto the highway.
I still see the inorganic matter as more than just metal in cars, crunched

to look cool at the wrecking yard. The paint turns oxygen to rust,
as the wood of a compact car coffin vanishes.

 

***

Jeff Pearson has been published by Black Rock & Sage, Otis Nebula, A capella Zoo, and Shampoo. His first chapbook, Sick Bed, was published by Small Text Dreams Press in 2013.

Image: anitapeppers, morguefile.com

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