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The President's Advisor 
(for my father)
by Nancy Shiffrin

"Come on out fists clenched, fighting,
rid your government of fools, thieves. 
I called the White House," you exclaim,
"a real person listened to me!"
I listened to Joshua and Jericho, Jonah and the Whale.
God bellowed from beyond flaming clouds.
You fed me cereal, shared your secret Disbelief,
"faith is for cowards
who can't face the soft bottomless unknown."

I couldn't say His arms already caressed me,
while you were still a snapshot in uniform and cap.
Mosquitoes bit you.  A gun went off near your ear.
You played cards, sent money home,
met a woman whose perfume you preferred.
Mom read me The Monkey and The Elephant.
The smart monkey made fun of the slow elephant
until the monkey got stuck in a barrel of tar
and needed the elephant's trunk to pull him out.
Then was that monkey sorry! 
Slow dance of letters resolving,
the moment I knew I could read,
lilt of landlady's Italian, Mom's fears about rent.
Shadows of men she brought me even
in the hospital where I had my tonsils out.
"Blue eyes, such beautiful blue eyes!"
Fountains rising in their hands, sticky metal aftertaste.

"Resign," you tell The President, "go on a lecture tour;
don't bother with this ungrateful country!"
Last year you were the infant, ice-cold, curled up
in a hospital crib, virtually bionic, hallucinating. 
"The wrong daughter!  She's the wrong daughter!"
I held your hand,
warmed you back from the spiraling wind
where your mother waited with crossed arms, shaking head.

I want to describe my time,
fetal with grief, struggling to sort
image, feeling, sensation, event,
your midnight visits, your Shadow, your fountain.
I watch The News Hour,
order a subscription to Tikkun,
attempt to advise you:
Detectives and wiretaps will not return
the Girl Who Loved Stories to an intact state of Disbelief.
Rid your life of fools and thieves.
Forget about ingrates. 
Don't worry about resigning.
The Light Transcendent welcomes in Her time. 

signed inscribed copies available at

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