My Father Returns as the Jack in the Box in a Dream
By Judith Skillman

He’s waited on the bed to spring up at me, always

the same clay face, skin the color of flesh.

Of course, in the silence that ensues, you’ll have

to take my word for this.  As when one tells a dream

it disappears—but no, my father, a little figure—

still attached to the tiny bed from which he leaps

like a rattler coiled in the heat.  Like a monster

to scare schoolgirls, and this would happen every

time I opened the door, as dreams are not past, present

nor future.  When I was eighty years old my father

was still made of dough, under-baked, yeasty, never risen

quite enough to believe in…when I was seventy

my father sprung from the box and the phrase he said,

well you’ll have to content yourself, I don’t remember.