Tony Barnstone

What Her Father Said

After the barbeque the men stayed out
in the cold garden drinking sake, rum,
and whiskey, stomachs warm and fingers numb.
The yellow cat began to nose about
the chicken bones and cold asparagus,
leftover steak and daikon radish, salt
soy beans, cucumber salad. “It’s my fault,”
he said, “She doesn’t want me.” “Just give us
some time,” her father said–his gray hair tied back–
gripped his son-in-law’s hands across the table
and held them tight, tight. “Listen to me,”
he said, “In Japan, we say a dog is able
to eat all things, will even lick its ass.
But marriage trouble, even dogs won’t eat.”

Tony Barnstone
What Her Father Said is from Sad Jazz Sonnets (Sheep Meadow Press, 2005).