Instructions for Performance

John Gallaher | Poetry

In the comedy version, I go with “I’m my own second cousin,” adopted
by the daughter of the brother of my paternal grandmother. It’s a kind of music:

daughter of the brother of my paternal grandmother.

In the sad version, I’m three, my father’s dead, and soon after, his
father and mother, with my birth mother lost
in my new parents’ fear that she might hire a lawyer. Pitiful fear
that swallows states and pictures. I’m a recast character, dropped in,
season three, gray city in Brutalist architecture. The theme

is silence.

This is my class report. I stayed up all night working on the tri-fold.
“The theme is gratitude,” The Adoption Story says. Monday,
gratitude. Tuesday, gratitude. Am I performing gratitude sufficiently?
Dial 1-800-ADOPTEE.

Pessoa, José tells me at The Pub last week, writes, “I have an altar
for every god

in every corner of my soul.” I get it, spitting

into a tube, watching the DNA online process arrow
story through Received, Extracted, Analyzing.
Like waiting for pizza delivery, only I’m the pizza. Death

phones, whispers, “Double cheese.”

Because what are we anyway? Waiting.
Like “three ghosts” or “thought’s prayer.” And what do I say?
That I got cold once when I was a child, and never got warm?