and you tell me you think it was that day
you found your father undressing 

an elk in the garage, his hands stained dark,
thick smell rising from a body hung 

on a hook you thought was meant
for sleeping bags or tents grown moldy.  

The swiftness of his movements, the gentle
peeling of hide from meat seemed meaningful 

as if to prove some men only show themselves
when their backs are turned.

You tell me he even hummed a little—Casey Jones,
a tune he would play on Sundays before sweeping 

you up in his arms. I imagine you shut the door slowly,
feeling your presence somehow wrong.

                                                I’d like to have been there
to see the afternoon’s light play in the blood that pooled  

on your dinner plate, to better understand why you
continue to call him, even though you were the one 

who came home to find patches slightly whiter than
the rest of the carpet, where he kept his lanterns 

and the other things he said he couldn’t live without.