Skull & Sunflower—Jonathan Brooks
“IS YOUR DAD HOME? IT’S AN EMERGENCY.”
My father was quick to help
those who needed medical attention.
Friends and neighbors always calling,
using my father’s paramedic training to
see if their injury was serious enough to go to the doctor.
I guess he was one of those people
who never learned about emotional emergencies.
Never knew that spiteful words could cause
holes in his children so large
that years later still begged for suture.
Somehow he would run out the door—no shoes on—
to help a seizing cousin
but was blind to the way his shouts seized our world.
For years it was easier to paint him as monster,
a man who sped up on purpose when my mother yelped,
whose eyes bulged like his neck veins when he shouted.
As an adult, there are days I finally fight back
using my voice as a shield.
Those days, I am his spite personified,
and I swear I will publish EVERYTHING,
and I will name his name.
But then there are days like this.
His voice turned smaller by half,
him finding the pulse of a stranger to be adequate.
It is hard for me to reconcile that he has
saved so many lives
while decimating ours.
It’s hard for me to understand the many
he has rescued from a blaze
while he was busy burning down our house.