audio: Lineage
audio of Stephen Palos's poem, Lineage

Re-Size Text: A A A A Comment

RSS blog print

Stephen Palos



      We did not remove our shoes. My father followed
      a dirty trail from the doorway to the love seat
      where Grandpa sat and smoked, a little glass
      of milk perched on the table at his side.

      Above him, fruit flies stuck to a strip of tape
      like small black seeds. My father moved a pillow
      and sat beside the man I’d only known
      from blurred photos and stories.
                                                       When we hugged,
      his trembling arms reached out like shepherd crooks
      and pulled me down. He coughed into my ear,
      apologized, and looked me in the eyes.

      He stared at me, then frowned. His lips were thin,
      dried peppers, wording something. Flecks of milk
      clung to his beard. I pulled myself away
      and asked my father where the restroom was.

      He nodded toward the hall. Two figurines,
      naked, kneeled atop the toilet tank.
      The room stank of hay, damp—I didn’t touch
      the humid toilet handle.
                                          When I returned,
      they didn’t notice. Keeping back, I watched
      my father pull a comb through his father’s hair,
      starting at the ends and working up.