Because you were ancestor because living dead and loved, in your necessary addiction you toed the roots of the banyan tree from underground, fiddling with your skullcap while saying my name in a mirror of groundwater. I saw you just the other day standing in the corner of my room at the corner of my eye, cornering my truth like a panther, remaining quarter-visible while I typed you into half recollection, into forever the hand that held mine then undid the holding. Because I refuse to look the dead in the eye, I minded you like I mind dark shapes darting peripheral after I leave a room. My shadow self has many pets. My living makes room for finite cycles, a staircase spiraled to a point. If I die after my younger sister, you will become unknown, mortal-proofed. On the altar for my ancestors, I leave for you my favorite candy. You will love what I love. Florida water flags citrus from your obituary’s fold. You were sweet when you were here. Forever be my father in your becoming forever.
Phillip B. Williams is the author of the poetry collections Mutiny (2021) and Thief in the Interior (2016), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a Lambda Literary Award, as well as the chapbooks Burn (2013) and Bruised Gospels (2011). A Cave Canem graduate, Williams is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He is coeditor of the online journal Vinyl and teaches at Bennington College.