The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday and Riverbend Park

Father Outside
By Nick Flynn

A black river flows down the center
of each page

& on either side the banks
are wrapped in snow. My father is ink falling

in tiny blossoms, a bottle
wrapped in a paperbag. I want to believe
that if I get the story right

we will rise, newly formed,

that I will stand over him again
as he sleeps outside under the church halogen
only this time I will know

what to say. It is night &
it's snowing & starlings
fill the trees above us, so many it seems

the leaves sing. I can't see them
until they rise together at some hidden signal

& hold the shape of the tree for a moment
before scattering. I wait for his breath
to lift his blanket

so I know he's alive, letting the story settle

into the shape of this city. Three girls in the park
begin to sing something holy, a song
with a lost room inside it

as their prayerbook comes unglued

& scatters. I'll bend
each finger back, until the bottle

falls, until the bone snaps, save him

by destroying his hands. With the thaw
the river will rise & he will be forced
to higher ground. No one

will have to tell him. From my roof I can see
the East River, it looks blackened with oil

but it's only the light. Even now
my father is asleep somewhere. If I followed

the river north I could still reach him.


It was an insanely gorgeous Saturday -- slightly overcast, low 60s -- so after a rather lazy morning, we had bagels for lunch and went to Riverbend Park in Fairfax, where the woods are full of bluebells this week. The park is on the Potomac River above Great Falls and there are always lots of birds (no coots this time but Canada geese, mallards, cormorants, a great blue heron) and at this time of year plenty of bugs (bees, butterflies, gnats, beetles, ants), including a jumping spider of whom Adam took great photos. He also spotted a rat snake and Paul found a pair of skinks peeking out of a fallen tree branch.


We had frittata with black beans and salsa for dinner, then watched The Adjustment Bureau between the end of the Kentucky game and the last minutes of the Kansas game, which were exciting even though I didn't actually care who won -- all the teams I love and hate are out of the tournament and I'm not in any pools! I liked the movie, didn't think it was great but Damon and Blunt had nice chemistry and it didn't bother me that the plot veered more toward romantic comedy predictability than sci-fi edginess in the conclusion, which I am heartily sick of. Happy April Fool's Day!

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