ODYSSEUS IMAGINES THE DEATH OF HIS SON
For Ocean Vuong
Like all good fathers, I drag my son
toward the beach, raise his head
above the water, watch his soft beard
floating on the rippling surface.
Pulling the gangly body clear of the sea, tattoos
on both his arms, I am a beachcomber
discovering the rarest shell, chambered nautilus,
conch that roars the sea's fury.
We finally meet the way all men meet
their sons, in death and far from home.
Prepare the pyre, a burning throne anoints
the future king, the oiled body glistens,
a body which I scarcely touched. Because
he wears my face. Because every man must sacrifice
the thing he loves. Because it is what every father
does. I must begin the work of destroying my son.