Unknown Coordinates

for Randy

Somehow I miss the day they pass
out compasses, the secret passports,
special visas to where everybody’s
happy, healthy, jogging on clouds.

Can’t count how many times I hear
you’re in a better place. Others
must be getting postcards I don’t get.
I comb the atlases and maps,

spin the globe and still. They say
nothing special’s needed to bring
with you when you go. No carry-on,
no phone to snap a selfie with an angel

or with God. What should I do
with all these cards & flowers,
guide books to that latitude
and longitude I still can’t find?

Some say there’s a tunnel one can’t
resist, where those who’ve gone before
wait to greet you at the other end,
even your childhood dog panting

and wagging its stubby tail.
I should take comfort you’re in sweet
hands, that all our loved ones who were
here, but now exist in Better Place,

are taking care of you in ways
I never could. Tell me, though, do they
have picnics there or choppy waves
to bounce our boat, flip us, sink

us, bone-soaked in love again?

Bow Lines

Swollen boats, my father’s hands
darken all fall. Still he lifts one
over the hospital bed’s metal
rails when I stop to see him.

More fluid than bone, his fingers
hoist mine in a tangle of confused
masts. He no longer tries to come
about. I stroke his head, bruised

from bumping up against the end
of his life, in a slip that is not his
slip, in unfolding bedsheet sails,
and no wind yet for the crossing.

My Father’s Shoes

In the back of the closet
my father’s shoes sleep,
their creased tongues,
gray riverbeds.

I should have given
them away by now,
but somehow when I see
his long toes disappear

in heavy sand,
then his legs, torso,
head and shining
scalp, they’re what

I have to walk him
back to me.

Christina Daub’s work can be found in several literary journals and anthologies. She also translates poetry from Spanish & German into English. She has taught poetry & creative writing at various schools, including George Washington University and co-founded The Plum Review. You can find her at christinadaub.com