Standing Still

The man on the edge of the sidewalk
presses his feet into concrete as if he were
afraid he’d fall from a cliff, felling the wind.
He waves his sign
xxxxxxxxxxxxxVet
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxwill work
xxxxxxxxxxxxxfor food
and I want  to pull over, give him something
to hold but I’m forced to push ahead, run
away from what I imagine could have been
my father, thirty-seven years ago, fresh
from Vietnam & a bout of false insanity.

I imagine my father on corners, a sign of
god burning his fingers
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxvet.
xxxxxxxxxxxwill sing.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxffor god.

I can’t be sure if my father was crazy or the
arc of an angel’s lung. Once, I dreamed my
father confessed he’d changed his name
because god spoke to him through creamed
corn & an I.V. tube.

I wanted to hold him but feared his god
would contaminate me. I could end up
cornered, too afraid to move and even more
terrified—