Any dream, as long as it begins
with treacherous. With mercy
borne back & aching from the
fingertips inward. If I'm lying
through my teeth, at least I still
have the long way home. If this
is where my father ends, at least
I still have his hands for ransom.
I say you are every reason I cannot
blink anymore & he says you can't
blame me for all of this gasoline. It's
enough for the knife & the
tongue. After him there are no
ways to make dusk small again.
No method to serenade grief
soft enough for the streets to
swallow. You can't undo glory.
You can't force a home to
unwind & fix itself. My mother
tells me that my father only yells
because he is afraid. Finally,
something we have in common.
I see the hurt in his eyes when
I flinch as he tries to hug me &
I want to say it's not your fault but
all that comes out is I swear there
was a time when I didn't starve in
this language. Dislocation in car
window & my father spins
creation on the rooftops. All
my little achings with no sleep
to dampen. So many things I
invent to avoid rescue. My
father comes from a long
time ago, sings hemorrhage of
black & human. His eyes like
a night helpless in forgetting.
I say these are dangerous times to
be a daughter. He says enough
with the metaphors, you're making
your mother sad. I speak these
vowels without oxygen to
spark a murder. Fury is just
as human as fear & every girl
I've ever brought home tells
me I smile in the same way
as my father. I'm beginning
to understand why, even in
sleep, all hospital parking lots
remain full of hope: home is
not my father's hands, but
rather, the light they reflect
War Story With My Father
Topaz Winters is a poet, essayist, editor, creative director, speaker, actress, & multidisciplinary artist. Among her internationally award-winning & critically-acclaimed creative credits include working as the author of three books (most recently poems for the sound of the sky before thunder, Math Paper Press, 2017), writer & star of the short film SUPERNOVA (dir. Ishan Modi, 2017), creative director & editor-in-chief of Half Mystic Press (est. 2015), speaker of the TEDx talk Healing Is a Verb (2017), & creator of the digital art installation Love Lives Bot (est. 2018).
First published in Sundog Lit.