Poem with Ghost and Aloe Vera by Jenny Minniti-Shippey

                            for Martin
This poem was meant to be another,
but now here’s your father,
who I’ve never met—or rather,
his ghost, whose ghost face I know as I know
your own. Somewhere in the suburbs of Philadelphia,
you are crying, and tucking your daughters
into rooms I’ve also not yet met, and drinking wine,
cursing in Romanian with your wife, whose dark hair
and darker eyes are wet from your possible tears
or the shower—
                         welcome, I whisper to the ghost of your father,
perch here on the octopus arms of the aloe vera,
you can feel it out-growing its red pot, I’ll get a glass of water, being dead is thirsty, I hear—
We watch each other like the hawk watches its chosen
branch: bright-winged, hopeful, wary. Branches long
for talons, clasp here interlaced: I offer your father
rest syntax-spun, my brother, he can pause,
splash dirt-rich water
from the yellow rusted watering can
across the coins in place of his eyes.
How many myths should I build for him? Tell me,
              and I’ll tell your father, as he waylays
in the farthest reaches of this poem, silent still
and, as any of us are, unknowable.
Jenny Minniti-Shippey is the Director of Development for the Contemporary Irish Arts Center Los Angeles (CIACLA), Director of the Coyote Creek Writer’s Residency, and served as the Managing Editor of Poetry International from 2009-2020. She is the author of 2018 San Diego Book Award finalist, After the Tour, from Calypso Editions; Done Dating DJs, winner of the 2009 Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition, presented by the Munster Literature Centre; and Earth’s Horses & Boys, from Finishing Line Press. Her writing has appeared in Salamander, Spillway, Cider Press Review, Tar River Poetry, and others.