Hey, folks. I'm thinking of this sort of as a "reintroduction" since I haven't posted in over a year (I'm getting older, what a scary thought! At any rate, I figured I'd at least post something new). I'm hoping to be more active over the next month while I'm on break! Can't wait to read your work and leave some comments!
Do you remember the sliver you pulled out of my big toe in Thomas Park?
It was a new kind of stinging-ache among a yellow heat,
the pines inhaling as we sat on a bench blasted with bubble gum stickers
and kicked grass. A pinch and then it was gone.
Now there’s a splinter in my pulmonary artery,
and I know you’re no surgeon, but you understand how delicate
thick skin can be. You understand my shuddered tendons
and shallow dipped lungs return in the presence of needles,
but last time the wince on your cheek convinced me not to cry
as the pin sank deep into the muscle.
Does it ever get easier watching someone go numb?
Your favorite shirt is the one I made with fabric marker
and foam paint. Biceps bulging, a Popeye father
with drill and hammer, you are my kitchen constructor,
my Daedalus of theater sets and whisperer of the wood grain.
Even though he is photons on film, invisible leg, coupons
traded in for a conversation with the butcher
at Price Chopper, phantom pains and repeated stories,
I wonder if G taught you how to chop trees,
how to notch boards and move barns.
Last week I talked with him, painting my nails
so I didn’t have to look at him not looking at me
as his amassed aches sank below his shoulder blades
long enough for him to tell me you were sensitive,
and I realized I’d never thought of you as a child.
And you are such a child.
Now I see how he is more your life than mine,
how maybe you passed through your twenties
starting to see him not just as your father, but whole,
the same way I’ve noticed how you must stay up some nights
thinking about how G’s cells
are consumed by depression and injections
because my skin’s code is half
of yours and I stay up worrying
Before I knew how to rip out my own splinters,
you taught me which way to sand the wood
so my skin wouldn’t catch, told me fragments
stuck at the edges just work their way to your core.
When did G teach you to cut out the ones that’d gone too deep?
Dad, I’ve been thinking maybe we have splinters
from the same piece of wood, thought if you removed
mine I could try to remove yours. But even if we had a blade,
I wonder if maybe some pieces refuse to leave.
Some nights I wish my toes were smaller.