The Forum Prize
Twisted neon tubes illuminate
arcades that span Midway’s moving walkways.
I’m flying home to see my father
and join a group of teachers to discuss
biblical poetry. At the Best Western
I share a room with Sharif, a Tucson native
whose Sufi wit inspires a second look
at God’s almighty bipolarity
before we theorize about divine
machinery and traffic management
of transcendental flight for passengers
like us between stops halfway home.
No chariot of fire here gives us a lift.
My father soon will fall like fruit too ripe
with time, oblivious, the way his mother
ended up unhappily. She took her leave
in loneliness apart from family
and friends. Etched in bright green neon tubes,
like those at Midway terminal, a cactus
signifies the Saguaro Drug Store’s open.
I often pass it, heading east on Grant.
In front of me the Catalinas call
to mind a watercolor that my father
painted one rainy day that made him keep
indoors. For a second the world looks inside
out and freshly rinsed—as though the mountains
stay with us, however far away we go.