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
I did not see the demons dancing
around my head when
I watched boys in the locker-room
and marveled at the way they wore
and wondered what was wrong with me
in the mind of other boys
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?