My father sat on the picnic table
behind the garage that summer cancer paused
to let him see five sons, our sweaty backs
boxing out familiar weight, eyes skyward
like choirboys beneath a rusted rim.
He lifted me when I twisted my ankle.
I grazed the stubble of his cheek and chin,
smelled Stephan's lotion in his hair.
He fluffed pillows, smashed ice into a towel,
placed a chip on my tongue. He gripped
my shoulders as if he saw himself in me,
or else the boy he'd never see whose shoulders
I'm gripping the day before