Your Hands, Now Weak
Father, you aren’t welcome here,
but I can’t wait to tell you
how my sister stands beside
Kate, holds her hand and a beer
in the middle of the pool.
Kate yells she can’t believe I’m here
though a friend ruined the surprise
two beers ago. You stormed
out the door last time you were here
after finding out they share
a bed. Their yard doesn’t feel like Ohio:
so lush with green I don’t mind
getting bit by mosquitos. You’re eating
your favorite TV dinner on the couch,
they’re swimming in October. I don’t know
my blood type but it must be the same
as my sister’s, our bites swell
big as silver dollars. Your
knuckles stayed swollen hours after
the fight. You talk more
to her ex-husband than to my sister
because he’s the father
of your grandchildren. Your voice
went soft when you said Kate
is bad for her and you don’t want
their friends near the kids.
As we sit down to eat with everyone, my sister
says, out of the blue, These
are the people I love most
in the world. You won’t meet
them, you aren’t one of them.
You said she fell in love with Kate’s
personality, not because she’s
beautiful. The picture of my sister
and her ex-husband on your fridge.
The bus ride when a black man
and a Korean woman held hands
and you asked me why they couldn’t
find someone their own
race. What do you call my sister
and Kate when I’m not there.
I knew who you were since
I was little. Mom tugged me
away from the playground
into the car into the house as you beat
up boys fighting on the basketball
court. You, God of a shit neighborhood,
and them, black. Your
hands, now weak with age. I didn’t
swim tonight, just dipped
my feet into the water.
You taught me how to swim
and how to punch, so I do
neither. I’ll tell you only
that I’m here.