My mother has never been like the other mothers. She has always worn more makeup and different clothes, and she has never been very good at cooking dinner, or signing permission slips, or making decisions. She likes the Lean Cuisines because they have the most appealing names and make her feel the best about herself, and she eats them at the kitchen table putting down her fork between each bite like one of the magazines has told her to. She uses a lot of salt. Once I asked her whether or not she thought that was a good idea and at the same time she took a bite of one of the frozen parts of the meal that hadn’t cooked through.
When I go to my poetry club meetings after school and in the evenings at Mr. Rose’s house she watches Hollywood Insider and Extra and shows about people that she would like to look like, and these are the people she brings pictures of to the salon when she gets her hair cut. She has always made a point to tell me that she’s proud of me that I go to Mr. Rose’s, and that I take AP English as a junior, and that she thinks that the Italian women who work the hair-washing stations at the salon are trashy-looking with their “talon nails”. My mother keeps her nails pretty short. She asks why I do not paint mine.
For my mother’s thirty-fourth birthday this year, she asked for a sushi dinner, and told me I could bring a friend along. I told her I would ask De’Andra, and she asked if there was a boy I would like to bring instead.
Tonight, she sits on the couch, and she is plucking her eyebrows. They are the only hair she has left that is brown. I know, because I have seen it all.
Dad’s diaries are waiting in the top drawer of
a bed stand in the places that we go when we
get lonely for an hour. The paper-thin parchment
crunches when I turn the page, like autumn leaves
that fell from burning trees too soon;
translucent and impermanent, the noises
keep me company in every bawdy tomb.
I read my favorite stories to a girl that I
won’t Mary from the time when you were
thirty-two, and think of all the shit you carried
with you on your back (you never let it weigh
you down) and I am hoping to remember all
the things you taught me back when you were still around.
Dad, I see your diary was written down by
someone else’s hand, but I still remember
everything you taught me about how to be
a man. You’ll be glad to know your grand
daughter is working overseas where she is
farming in a fertile land and does it all for
free, and how I almost tied your grandson to
a fence the other day, but I just pelted him
with rocks until he bled out all the gay.
See, I’m trying hard to live my life
just the way you told me, or at least
the way I read it in this dusty little
story book where your friends had all
your best intentions written down.
But Father, I have got to ask how you
drank from that bloody glass and split
the fish while we were killing kingdoms
in your name, and how you loved the lonely
lepers and you knew your mother’s whore,
when you told me that the wicked
would not be let in your doors. But you’re
not around to give me all the answers
I might need, so I am forced to watch
as Mary takes my sixty bucks
for a fuck and leaves.
Posted in poetry
Tagged bigotry, dad, diaries, Father, gay, gideon bible, God, hate crime, High School, homophobia, jesus, labor day, matthew shepard, monday, parents, poetry, prostitution, religion, religious intolerance, sex