Shortly after my dad shot and killed himself
I visited my mom at the Town Tavern.
She looked like a vampire, drained, rejecting
life-giving blood from its only son.
On a barstool next to her, I stared through
bottled spirits at her haunting gray reflection
befogging the silver and black-spotted mirror.
With a weak grasp of her shot glass
she raised her skeletal arm, dragging its skin.
We toasted my father’s eternal damnation.
Our glasses clacked a short-lived lonely slap.
With a single swallow and a shallow gasp
she exhaled her confession: I killed him.
In a staggered march over shelled peanuts
she made her way to the jukebox.
Bony fingers pecked a well-rehearsed combination—
George Jones’s hit single: He Stopped Loving Her Today.
In a wavy return, her parched lips mimed
the first line, which fully executed her late husband’s
contract before God: He said I’ll love her ’til I die.
I shot up to save her direction. I coaxed her hollow body
to the dance floor. In a forsaken embrace, I felt
Jones’s chorus beat and beat her heart on my chest.
I clumsily trumpeted my fingers over the small
of her back—my childish attempt at resuscitating
my father’s maneuver, which led her once vibrant
body over sprinkled sawdust, entwined as one
in weightless whirls.