After he died, my mother asked him, as the tears washed
into her bedsheets, if he would haunt her—“Please,” she
said. “Please come back and touch me with your specter
hand.” And she eventually stopped. “It didn’t work,” she said.
“There’s no one left to listen.” In some cosmic mishap, within
that tarry puddle where gone souls stay, he did hear, he did come
back, only not to her. At night, my ears ring with the cacophonous
soup of a single, wretched word: “Go!” When a father dies, a son dies too—
decisions, indecisions, changes, undoings. At the funeral, everyone told
me I was to take care of the world from then on, to dig out a path with a shovel
passed down from generation to generation. My father moves my hand.
His feet are my feet. Understanding is found underneath rocks the size
of doorways—gates of the pulseless. I budge no step without his ushering.
In the night, I howl at the moon and dig up graves with my back paws looking
for treasured manhood made physical and stately. My teeth sink into the gold piece.
I taste blood and lead—it pools in my mouth like soft gutter-water. I swordfight
trees and tie my tie around my waist. I wear my hat indoors and walk with my chest
small and hidden within itself. Sin fills my gut as I pray to him at church—
I pray the Lord lift the tension and leave me be—be with my mother, your wife,
who caws for you at midnight. I’ll gnaw my thumbs to nubs just to see a doorknob
slip through my grasps; you’ll place my hand on opportunity and it will fall to the ground
like a sheared head wheeling the lip of a bucket. The ether will echo your furious growl.
I’ll wipe my brow and exhale. You’ll be Zeus throwing bolts. I’ll hide below the
stairwell and stash my ears in my back pockets and learn how to live in the dark without you.
Dom Fonce is an undergrad English major at Youngstown State University. His work has been published in, or is forthcoming in, Junto Magazine, The Tishman Review, 3Elements Literary Review, Obra/Artifact, COG, Blacklist Journal, Ohio’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, West Texas Literary Review, GNU Journal, Fourth and Sycamore, Great Lakes Review, and elsewhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modotti, Tina. (1924). Stairs. [Gelatin silver print] New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.