Father our (a poem)

 

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A reading by the author:

 

father, you’ve taught us how to kill each other

when there was no one left to kill

you drove our hands backwards

there, where our hearts and guts were sitting and watching

our hands that still held the knife

with the stubbornness you taught us to trust

but then how much of me is there left to kill

how many unwanted versions of me are there?

because when I held within my palm

not the knife but

my uncle’s erection

the coronation of a midday nap spent

under the covers on a summer’s day

I did not think of eternal damnation

I was too short to fly above my adults.

no such thing had crossed my mind

when I let the other boys pretend

I was the wife and they the breadwinners

who came home from work with green leaves

instead of money.

back then my flesh had not yet acquired

a memory of fire

the skin did not burn when

I lowered my pants

and hid my face in the tall grass

or when I felt their weight descend upon me

that pressure not resembling

the one of being buried alive.

back then it was only the red-cheeked embarrassment

of nakedness.

I did not see the demons dancing

around my head when

later on

I watched boys in the locker-room

and marveled at the way they wore

their bodies

and wondered what was wrong with me

when girls

in the mind of other boys

occupied categories

held distinctions according to their pubic hair.

father, you’ve taught us how to hide twice over

once, within our bodies

and then within our minds

you’ve taught us how to tie the knots

over our hands

to keep them close to our bodies

when everybody else was free

to reach and show

the objects they desired most.

you turned our blood against us

imagined branches withering

on our family trees.

my flesh did not resent me

when I let another man’s tongue

come searching in my mouth.

I only thought of coming home

that home unlike the promised land

the house beyond the walls you built.

so tell me, father

shall I not seek your love

man, in the arms of another man?

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