Anatomy of My Grief Coming to me First as a Hissing Thing
how not to say father does it better than a snake,
how he folds his tongue to kill a dialect.
I do not make my facts boring here,
I hold a sweetener as I knead these words
into something long enough to keep me sighing all my life.
& you might want to know how I found my voice in this poem,
what I did when words return void, as the hole in my throat.
forgive me if I do not impress, when I say I crawled back & did nothing to live.
in our block, i'm stopped as a consonant:
a rankshift between plosive & flaps.
I wish for living things to know me first as sound—which means in good health,
which means placing the worth of a sibilant before me.
my father trains his mouth to yawning,
the pink reptile in there is nobody's plaything.
liquid worship to God—we make anti-venoms this way,
bathing prayer into our red loins,
mopping his teeth for bitemarks.
fangs that break my breath,
& pours me to rupture.
whatever knew us knew a diphthong,
knew the Siamese of two.
my father, deviating from the norm,
sounding like a mood when he yawns to feed his reptile with words.
sometimes, he milks his tongue,
& spills the venom on our plush.