Since my mother’s death, my father has grown a silver beard,
slept in his car on a country road, announced plans to drive
to Barrow, Alaska, spread her costume jewelry
on a foldaway table to be picked over by children,
made peach preserves, revealed the passing
of an unborn child that would be the eldest,
detailed, in a photocopied three-page memoir,
his travels by bus around Tokyo
during the Korean War, and, while there,
a climb he never made up the long stairs
to a golden Buddha, because he was too tired
and the way too long. Instead, he stayed
at the base of the temple and drank hot tea
and probably kept his devotion to Jesus.
Had he climbed, my mother would not be an angel
whole and walking streets of gold
but one simply given to the pathless universe
like the late-revealed sister I cannot love.
PAUL BOWERS lives with his wife and daughter on a ten-acre farm in Ringwood, Oklahoma. He earned a B.A. from The University of Tulsa, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Oklahoma State University, and he currently teaches writing and literature at Northern Oklahoma College. He has published a number of short stories in literary journals, including Southwestern American Literature, Mid-American Review, and Indiana Review, among others, and critical essays on James Joyce, William Carlos Williams, and the contemporary Irish poet, John Montague. Honors for his fiction include a Pushcart Prize nomination and the Herman M. Swafford Award for Fiction. His collection of short stories, Like Men, Made Various, was released by Lost Horse Press in March 2006. His most recent publications include poetry in ’Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me’, an anthology featuring Oklahoma writers, Poetry Quarterly, and Sugar Mule.