Leaning against the cold porcelain sink,
attempting to open the gates to a new day,
I stare into the mirrored face,
eyes still lifeless, skin colorless
and hair matted on the side
that met the pillow,
just like my father’s hair
when he’d fallen hard asleep on the couch
with his Yiddish newspaper covering his face
or rose for another day of labor
from his loveless, unshared bed.
I taste my breath and taste the exact
same sour breath that once came
from my father’s mouth,
that once I could not stand
because it represented all his staleness,
his fermented bitter taste of life,
and now it’s my breath,
yet all it is really is the residue
of last night’s dinner, last night’s dreams,
and the genetic trail
from my father’s mouth to mine.
I kiss his memory and brush hard
to clear it away.