I hunt words sharp as scalpels
to peel our skin
to air, to heat and rain
skin that no longer feels
each inch of atmosphere
pressing on and against it
skin buffed and rouged, powdered
to be seen, gazed upon.
I want words that lift our dead skin into air
caked with experience, dried and coated,
lift it from the uninitiated skin
not poked or prodded or pierced.
I want first touch
Words to release old skin
drag what’s outgrown against an oak tree’s
gnarled roots, lift, unravel, peel
edge the angled, loose
memory from synapse
knit bone to muscle
myelin to nerve.
My dad was not there, not sitting at the dinner table. He was not balancing the checkbook at that dining room table late at night, the kids reading under their covers, whispering or sleeping. My dad was not at his desk in the den, not in the den, not downstairs drinking beer with the guys, with my brother, with the neighbors, with my uncles. He didn’t watch the game on Sunday while the house moved around him. My father’s hands did not pound nails into dollhouses or bedroom shelves. His hands didn’t angle or tie flies. He did not punch the air in exclamation, stake tomatoes or beans, crack lobster claws or dip sardines. My father did not step between family members who were hurling hate, did not knock our legs out from under us, did not build anyone up, not Mom, not me, not anyone. Dad did not bolster or placate. His voice did not turn us to stone, did not rise or fall. His silence could not, and did, fill this house, my mother’s house.
About the author:
Wendy Scott is the author of Soon I Will Build an Ark, published by Main Street Rag in May 2014. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Paterson Literary Review, Fourth River, Cobalt Review, Potomac Literary Review, The Meadow, Lost Coast Review and Mojave River Review, among others. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and taught creative writing and composition for eleven years in Pittsburgh, where she lives.