A Poem for My Father (96 years old on Feb. 29, 2000)

By Sonia Sanchez With exact wings Your words sailed back into your throat. Could not fly forward. Your mouth face startled by this autumn Thunder went south again. I had forgotten the salute of death, how it waits Militarily on the outskirts of our skin. I had forgotten how death howls inside our veins. O father, how much like a child again I felt as I ran down doctors painted on porcelain corridors. O My father, as I breathed inhaled for us both, I began to sing a song you sang when I was little without a poet's name, Afraid of all the shadows cremating my bones, Remember the nite, The nite you said I love you remember... I remembered your voice swollen in a ritual of words on 152nd Street and St. Nicholas Place. Now I, daughter of applause, hands waterlogged with memory, asked for nothing more as I circled your hospital room, sequined with our breaths in an hour-glass of sound.