I roll him out to the Water Lilies, break

away one foot at a time.  I watch

my father from across the room, bald

head angled up, swaying under eight

by eight feet of psychedelic purples, blues,

and living greens. I read once that water

lilies are always hungry, and I’m thinking

this when my father is pulled out of his

chair into the pond, his morphine pump

drifting away, his body turning, nerves

cooled, smile soft.  Poppies cover his skin,

their leaves cocoon him in costume. He

begins to dance among bamboo, reaching for

feathery willows, losing himself in himself

until he realizes he’s all alone, twists his neck

to find a daughter.  As the last leaf spins

imperceptibly on the water, my father rotates

his chair around, his face shocked with the

light.  He searches for me, a confusion

in his eyes: Why did you leave me?  My

red purse ridiculous on his lap.


by Janine L. Certo 



Janine Certo is a poet and associate professor in the College of Education at Michigan State University. A former public school teacher, she has long advocated for more attention to poetry writing and performance in U.S. schools. Her poems appear in The Endicott Review and The Muddy River Poetry Review. Her work has been supported with a grant from The Spencer Foundation.

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