When my father died, I was not there.
I was a continent away when the call came.
I cancelled my class that night,
not willing for the welling eyes of my students
to unstop some hidden spring of tears
deep within the man
I thought I was.
In an instant I was four, my face pressed
up against his overcoat, the collar faintly
smelling of cigarettes and travel and
the clean bite of snow in his hair.
He would fly down from the gray sky,
to be with his parents and me for a day,
clattering across the lowered drawbridge
of my heart, past the flickering lamps
of dim memory, and into the courtyard
of the present.
He was the closest god that I could know.
Gods become less real the more they are
not present. Their absence as a being
shape-shifts by fate and circumstance.
We name it, shuffle memories, love it more
than less, understanding without knowing.