Of Papa Who Sang In the Opera by Antonia Alexandra Klimenko

We buried him   in deep November
brown hat brown suit brown shoes
Color
of sorrow of sepia of sienna
of a thousand burnt photographs
fading into their horizon

Color
of the linoleum
I scrubbed with a toothbrush
the day I was forced
to dig my own grave

for the crimes I committed
like living
A hole much smaller
than the one in my heart

We buried him above ground
one year at a time
lowering him slowly
into forgiveness–
tulips blossoming
into Soviet red wounds
mouth opening
into Stalin’s tomb
Arias by Tchaikovsky
in operatic fury   threatening
to swallow us whole

Lowering him slowly
into forgiveness–
Our father His Holiness
who dreamt of Byzantium-
clouds fluttering like butterflies
between   claps of thunder
A pinch of late Autumn blown by the wind
God threw in a handful of stars
The sunflowers looked on
bowing their heads

Sometimes late at night
I lie in his grave
Papa wanders
         barefoot there
like Jesus Christ in Summer
The Devil too
in his black fedora

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