Waking is an obligation:
three generations open their eyes every morning
inside me.

The first is an old child – my father;
he always chooses his luck and clothes one size too small for him.

Next comes grandfather…In his day, the word ‘diagnosis’ did not exist.
He simply died of misery six months after his wife.
No time was wasted. Above their corpses
rose a factory to make uniforms for dockworkers.

And great-grandfather, if he ever existed,
I don’t even know his name. Here my memory goes on hiatus,
my peasant origins cut like the thick and yellow nails
of field-workers.

Three shadows loom like a forest over me
telling me what to do
and what not to do.

You listened to me say ‘good morning’
but it was either an elephant pounding on a piano
or the seams coming apart in my father’s little jacket.

Indeed, my father, his father, and his father before that
are not trying to change anything
nor do they refuse to change anything; the soap of ephemerality
leaves them feeling fresh and clean.

They only wish to gently touch the world again
through me, the way latex gloves
lovingly touch the evidence
of a crime scene.