shoulder pads a cigarette burn on my left shoulder her middle name a battle with me at the middle second helpings of mashed potatoes too little pride to succeed, too much to ask for help how to win Monopoly how to cheat how to cheat the system Nintendo 64 an excuse for asking:
“Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? Really, are you sure?”
My therapist asked me to write a letter to you, not to send, but to put at the back of the silverware drawer.
Eventually, we hope that I stop looking for you there— in my upside-down reflection on a spoon;
and learn to separate my body image from your body. It has been 20 years, yet I still carry this image of you
in stepmother’s kitchen, playing at the “Don’t touch!” stove, by no rules about sugar; cracking eggs, stirring batter.
Not even a sugar high could redeem this grown-up day. There is cake in the break room, and singing: “I really shouldn’t eat this, but” harmonized with “You’re so thin, how did you do it?”
without her knowing, you licked the bowl with measured sensuality and unconscious desire.
And there’s still something sensual about feeling the weight of an egg in my hand, holding the threads, like the tail of a blackhead, longer than they’re meant to be held onto; until the white slips through my fingers,
and all that’s left is the yolk of it. The heaviest part of letting go is accepting everything just as it is,
and waiting— for a soft boil, you dropped your hard- -shelled heart and a hint of vinegar.
And I still use bitterness to cope with my cracking, tasting for your buttermilk skin, porous as a pancake; its texture is impossible to reconcile.
It has been 20 years, yet I still struggle to embrace the absoluteness of your body becoming my body, and hold the shell of you up to my face.
Oh, what a day
to get out
with the sun
no, not up
that too easy
very normal and very common
an action that requires no will
which 66% do at-will
in exchange for small change
and less development of skill
that too hard
treating people like people is
very abnormal and very uncommon
father gets out
just for fun
no, not church
that too easy
very close to talking on the phone
with someone who takes efficiency
like his boss’s boss
or the call out with a sick kid
in exchange for 2 days of rest
except this one
being a holiday
I get out
despite rain clouds
in spite of depression
because I get it
how my burned daylight
could be conflated
for parents who work
for every father in my lineage
who still puts in overtime
for no pay
but the security
that his job is safe
thereby his house is safe
should there ever come
a sick kid
to come in.