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dos equis

Vincent Hao, Austin, TX


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I am young as the sunlight. my father drinks a rustic

ale and breathes I love you. the cafe fills with music,

polished waiters stream from the kitchen door,

plates rainbow with food. my father stares too long

at a pair of shaven legs, his lips memorized

in sermon or elegy or some broken wish to wake

with a young, ambitious jawline, a face to match

the bmw we keep test driving, never buying.

later in the night he plays a movie, and snores

next to me. in the pictures I’ve seen he has a beautiful

face. there’s one, dated 1991, where he’s left his polo

halfway, clutched my mother by the opposite hip.

when the movie catches, I watch the leftover light

pattern against his excess skin, his beer belly

full and tinged with lapsed shadow. in sleep

he is calm, blessed with the residuals of immortality,

the little splices of perfection to accentuate the cheeks.

soon he wakes and his breath warms the silky fog,

and for a second he forgets my name. there is no problem.

there is a commercial beer and a drifting mind

a world built by mortal men. one day I will remind

him that I must leave him, that I will kiss his cheeks

and his pockets, switchblade my initials against his chest.

for my father is a falling tree— in this lasting impasse

of time, he agitates for sunlight, in blistering wind and empty

shadow, he calls me son and prays I need him still.

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