Song of the Daughter
In my dreams night closes its dirty waters
around the apartment complex.
Your keys strike each other.
They clatter like unoiled machinery,
your cheeks coarse with iron-filings.
When I lift the dogwood blossom out of water
and glass, dripping with the only light
in the room, it grows immense, deepens,
white as milk around me, a fly
crouched on the pistil.
Father, when I was a girl,
you’d walk from the den at night,
the floorboards creaking like a thousand rusty hinges
flying open. You’d stand in my room,
in the muted flicker of the television,
a blue deep as the light thrown
from water. And then your zipper,
a sewn wound popping open, stitch by stitch, the flies
swarming from their nest, armpit, crotch. Even now
they glitter like scales, blue and green
in the streetlamp. Even now your tongue
slips, slow as the blossom from its sheath,
your arms, your hips, again, then again
and again and again until I am filled,
I am the red clay after a flood
I am the words trying to say father
Tonight I’ve been taken by the blossoms.
I float here like a burned child
in their blooming solution, here,
in the organic dark, root and bruised petal, leaf,
all joined in the drawing of water.
You are wading in from the doorway, neck-deep
and silent, brushing aside the fish,
the drifting weeds, your black chemicals
swallow me, swallow me.
“Song of the Daughter” is from Everlasting Quail (UPNE Press, 2001), and first appeared in Volt, #6, 2000.