First Cut

Perhaps my father was the first,

with his absence,

except for the rare storms from his daytime slumber

to terrorize us into quiet so he could sleep.

I once got caught in the cross fire of his flying hands.

I was not yet 3.

My older sisters squealed and screamed him awake.

But I was too naive to run.

Before that, he was the myth my mother made us believe

about fatherhood and tender love.


But the one I can summons from memory caves

was the gorgeous boy

with the ass long shiny silk brown hair

and tan flawless skin sunk into Italian brown eyes.

I was 13 and he 15.

He paid me attention, walked with me at night

on a quiet moon-lit road named Candlewood as we

murmured our intentions, our future married selves

–or I did.

I couldn’t believe he was interested in me, a brainy

average-looking girl with the wrong kind of hair–

refusing to hang long from a middle combed part.


And a week after that walk under the old gibbous moon,

when I told him I wanted to marry a bodily lover,

he failed to appear, non-responsive, ghosted–

and I cried the cliché with a painful heart, torn

and scorned, never to be stabbed the same again,

my pillows my week-long companions in sob-town.


Though others made Caesar of my heart, dagger

hurlers and stabbers, I remember them vaguely.

Not like that first cut, the baptismal soul’s sarcophagus.


One thought on “First Cut

  1. This feels almost like two poems brought together. The first stanza about your father is completely and utterly riveting. So many full-on, angry images: every single sentence set my teeth on edge. Words like ‘storm’ ‘terrorise’ and ‘crossfire’ do not a settled childhood make – and there was such power and energy in this stanza. You curl everything so beautifully into those final two lines in that opening stanza – the ‘myth’ of your father that your mother had you believe: I think this would have worked as a complete poem. It’s certainly powerful enough to stand on its own.

    The second stanza (and I understand your reason for linking these two men who caused pain and who absented themselves) seems tonally different, though the story is still a painful one, beautifully told. It’s the crackling (and frightening) force of the first stanza which captures me, however.

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