The night you bury your father you hope
he will visit your dreams
but apparently there’s a final exam in biology.
When did you sign up for biology?
Fluorescent bulbs flicker, lockers shimmer
like kelp in a film by Jacques Cousteau,
who invented the aqua-lung but couldn’t waive
the final exam. Outside trees by Van Gogh
waver. You need help, and your larynx
is on the fritz. Why can’t you remember
registering for biology? What exactly were
the prerequisites? (There was nothing, nothing,
then boom—there you were, in the middle
of testing Newton’s third law with a neighbor,
both of you two and not yet up to speed
on the biomechanics of locomotion.)
A raccoon—clearly your brother—interrupts
the freight train of thought to rent you
the Indian Ocean. Then snow and your mother
roars up in a Mustang, blaring Van Morrison.
You’re certain the brakes are broken,
but you can’t shout, she can’t hear you
moaning. Then stars and you’re staring
at this jar. Then calm and you’re in some room
with a cut-out moon, and it’s time. The exam
has only one question: After death,
what is our phylum? You know this!—
yet you’re still sunk: all quarter
you also cut Latin. The paper falls
hard from your hand, there’s the bell,
you blink to the surface. You hold
your father’s face in mind as best you can.
Pinfish make a last lap of the yard.