• Keyoka Kinzy

My Father

My father smells of work,

Like gasoline and metal and something spicy

That the wind blows into my nose,

And I can still smell him after he is long gone,

And I am sitting in the front seat with my mama.

She asks how it went,

A ten-minute meeting at a middle ground gas station.

I drop the money in the cup holder between us. Well, he’s fat,

As if he swallowed too big a bite of life,

And it thickened around his legs, swelled in his belly,

Sagged his arms, and filled his head.

She says I should try harder.

For years, we meet:

At a 24-hour McDonald's, at a grocery store

With my mama watching from the car or a far-off table,

Hoping (I think) that I find myself

In staring at his fingers or his chin;

The mustache, the bald head.

I never told her I forgot how he looked every time,

That I had to sift him out of a crowd

From maybe-killers alone on benches.

He would kiss my forehead with whiskered lips

And say he didn’t have long.

Neither did I.


Published in the next issue of Ellipsis, UNO’s literary magazine

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