I gave my father a painted cup
which he turned in his brittle hands.
The glare of the lamp on its porcelain, dull shadow
at the bottom—cup with painted sea reeds
and a starry night, cup of breath, of air.
Cup with a handle like a heron’s neck.
He brushed his fingers over the curved rim.
He touched its lip, the skirt at the base.
Sometimes I am a scratch on such a cup.
But leave it on the front porch on a windy day,
the palms will pour their fronds into it.
Put it in the freezer and glaze it with frost,
bury it in the sand where the beach begins—
For a sip of the water that could fill it,
salt water warmed where the sea rifts part and glow,
warmed where the blind fish spread their gills.