The only sound my father loved was rain
at night, its dark cascade down windowpanes
that washed him into sleep. A boy, I drowned
inside it too and let it charm the count
of empties crowded by the sink that shone
a hazy brown bouquet in nightlight glow.
Sometimes entranced I’d tiptoe out to lick
their mouths, and as I grew, I made them clink
their glass against my teeth to drain their dregs
like drops from dead canteens. What did I dredge
besides the muffled coughs that burned inside
my fist? I’d brace my dizziness, which widened
with the hall, then fall between my football sheets
where men erased the earth beneath their cleats.
Adam Tavel’s third poetry collection, Catafalque, won the Richard Wilbur Award (University of Evansville Press, 2018). He is also the author of The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2017) and Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), winner of the Permafrost Book Prize. His recent poems appear in Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Los Angeles Review, Puerto del Sol, New Ohio Review, and Tampa Review, among others.