Nathan Slinker

Issue #
September 7, 2014


It seems my father knew how to coax
flame from the body’s tunnel
well before the little pill detonated.
Now he empties dishes of milk
at midnight, while we rub the silver
with rags torn from his shoulders.

My sisters sang themselves chemical.
I pinch my forearm, make a skin tent.
It was out of love, but still, I grabbed
mother’s hand. The glove came off.
Nothing underneath but our family
history—some scalded ruin, the dole.

Next time, if you want, I’ll tell the story.
You can be one of the lost hunters
pushed into a rope of constellation—

but the day I came to know my father,
he knelt to the drain
in a boarding house shower stall,
and, as if pulling water
from the well, withdrew from his mouth
a double dahlia.

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