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When I walk into the living room,
my mother’s fake oriental rug gleams
like spilled wine, its long-necked
birds and spiky flowers
following their untraceable paths.
My dead father is visiting
so my mother and sister ask
how he spends his days.
Learning languages, he says.
Right now I’m studying
Snowy Arctic. He likes the life,
he admits with a dry smile
except for the Archbishop
of Canterbury, who annoys everyone
with his pompous epigrams.
I’m glad to hear it’s not too bad
in that strange country
from which travelers so rarely
return, but just when I’m about to
ask him to say something in Arctic,
the wall with the family photos
recedes behind him. As his red
armchair sails away, he waves
through a haze of long-necked birds
rising from the rug, those birds
of paradise who can fly for centuries
down untraceable paths
of spiky flowers.
Copyright 2015 Elizabeth Gargano