My Father in Russia

Now he’s sending me text-messages
from a room full of furs and samovars,
vodka and dumplings, walking
around his living room
in an old uniform remembering his comrades
and The Great War, his medals
are heavy, the ribbons float
from his chest to the floor like nightgowns
while his grandmother makes borscht
and his little brother steals copper from the new
developments. When he greets me
on the street he calls me Citizen.
Citizen! Hello!
and we duck into a bar
where he changes into American jeans
and a white t-shirt, a pack of Camels rolled
up into his sleeve so you can see
the tattoo that says Lick Me
in Chinese over the head of a cobra, the red walls
covered in gold
framed mirrors, full
of men with newspapers, some without
their fingers
and some with crutches, an abandoned
television living
the rest of its life in the heart
of the boy washing dishes
in the back, listening
to David Bowie in English. My father
is toasting all his children, the ones he has
never met, the ones
he hasn’t had yet. I keep seeing him
in the eyes of women, in their
slender feet. I want to walk along
a cobbled street with him, my arm
around his waist like a nurse
heading to the opera. He’s getting ready
for the revolution
by not being at all, not even the bones
of a horse or the handle of a plow. It’s hard
to imagine the body of a man you don’t know.
It’s up to me now. Citizen!
he hollers. And then I remember. He lives
in Russia, on-line, I’ve seen him,
a beautiful bride, a blonde
with lips full of grapes and white breasts
that lift up into the heavy gravity of earth,
I’ve seen him at night
when I’ve been lonely, he talks
with an accent and will fuck you for real, after
the flight is financed
and a check is sent, oh dad
moaning through the computer
in a cocktail dress and mink stole, the long
thin fingers, a fake diamond
glinting below a tiny knuckle. I can order him. I can save
the money and meet him
at the airport in Long Beach, I can carry his bags
while he walks behind me
in heels, I can buy him a latte
and English lessons, put my hand on his thigh, fill him
with chardonnay,
tell him I want him and tie him up
with the silk stockings I sent
as a promise of another life,
an afterlife,
floating above the Windsor-green golf courses of Santa Barbara.

Always get the last word.

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One thought on “My Father in Russia

  1. A wonderful treat; I was so ecstatic to see Matthew Dickman’s poem features here in the blog! I just read the profile piece (of the Dickman brothers) from The New Yorker’s archives.

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