Sunday, July 18, 2021

Run Down by April Freely

Run Down

my father’s flesh is baby girl pink
pushed back to reveal his tibia
bone like a white hot wall
in his brown body
when you open the body
internal forms stay put
my father steady, still standing
in a tank and shorts at midday in the parking lot
no anger in the shift
as my mother pulls the car into reverse
a beating may be
my mother driving our subcompact into my father repeatedly
driving us away from the cutting at the end of his fists
this is how
my father sets his body to be healed: scattering
gravel under the wheels, clouds of dust like mean
kisses at his feet
I like being inside a machine
big enough to kill
when it doesn’t
idling at a light, I feel
as if against the steel
as if the car is devoid of the cushions and plastic parts
that are supposed to console you
Lake Erie is five minutes away
my mother’s bruises bob up
as the Lake rocks and holds
I see my mother breathing
I see the metal bridges
of the frames on her face 
she is a taut cord
holds her hands
out, stretched toward me
turning at the wrists, saying no
I want to say I’m telling
you about the last beating
it isn’t
I try not to hold anything
against the mother
who lets her own hand
fly up to her face
then bites the fingers of that hand
what protects me: not the cage
of bones, what the rocks did
not hit, the glass of the windshield
that did not break
at the Lake, I throw rocks
at the water, so many open mouths
the deep immediately forgets
when we get home I come to
appreciate the absolute
darkness of a new hole in the wall
my mother washing my face, and then hers
in the bathroom, before getting dinner ready
it is not so much about the lie
or the pain, but my father’s
charisma when he tells me the wound in question
really emerged seven years before
Da Nang inexplicably breaking
out of his body afresh
as a girl, I stood on my father’s back
kneading death’s terrible field
in my white lace socks
I threw my arms out
to keep balance on the sacrum
and the lumbar bones
pressed my foot into the blade
at the shoulder
I want a father who can be torn
so I can visit the consequence
of my body against him
on the back of my neck
my lover kisses me, as she’s driven
I want to call this a drive, not a wreck
restraint not unlike the moment
when I’m going after her lips
and my lover says you want that, can’t have it
when I push up against the hands
she’s planted on each shoulder
when the length of her body pins me down
tell me about the stone, she says
which is what she calls that bone-
handle at my sternum
a stone is a feeling of articulation
in the hand, when she cradles this rise
in my chest
years later, my father is dead
so tonight, my mother is the stone
that comes back
she is asleep, in the bright
cold light of the surgical theatre
on the heart-lung machine
there is no beat to betray her          
the machine is large, it can be trusted                                                                
it whirs like a baby
in the lobby, when I hold my own body
every line is expressive
waiting for the mother to emerge
as I sit, my legs an off-
beat metronome
running down
stones drop
into the water and keep
moving, undertow
tell me about the stone
am I the fist
the rattle, or the steel
of your body now
tell me the waste narrative, make a sound
tell me about the white of the bone I saw
under my father’s skin, this moment
when my teeth broke
into view and anyone could hear
the white noise
we back up
and I drive
at the end of the elasticity of my father
at the no-point when the car is inside his body
as far as love will take it
then I do it again


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